March Madness Keeps Us In Darkness in City Hall
Forget City Hall’s (CH) late budget and craziness in January and February. We started March with CH’s boiler underwater. However, this week’s allegations from the Board of Estimate’s and Control, March 16, 2021, meeting, if true, were stunning and extends the madness. Why would our comptroller who is under a court order to make specific back payments for employees’ overtime, cut the checks; but employees receive only regular payroll, and not the overtime pay that were ordered. A legal appeal from the comptroller, to stay the court’s order, could delay enforcement. But why?
Could the comptroller’s office be low on cash, because of the late budget, or other reasons? And is the comptroller buying time until the tax receivables are processed?
Without getting into the weeds, it’s becoming clearer that we have long lost our way. A more transparent process that sheds light on “cash on hand” at the end of year (2020); versus where we are at the end of February (2021); would go a long way in answering those questions.
LET THERE BE LIGHT
Mount Vernon City Hall has been operating in the dark for far too long with no back up plan. Now is the time to press for the “quarterly financials” that 95% of taxpayers voted for, this past November – as part of the new job responsibilities of the comptroller. It’s about compliance. It’s about execution. This is accretive, especially since the Honorable Susan Cacace (Acting Justice of Westchester Supreme Court) ruled on March 12, 2021 that the comptroller “needs to undertake any and all actions necessary to facilitate disclosure of financial records.”
The reality is you should not need a court order, or a referendum (Charter Revision), to compel any comptroller to execute on functions that assist the Mayor and the City Council to make informed financial decisions. Nonetheless, the public needs to see evidence of some compliance, or there needs to be a backup plan. It is notable that we are just beginning to see summary bank account data that belong to the City- as a result of a subpoena; better late than never.
We have nine months to the next budget and a new comptroller. I am proud to have held and led the first Master-Class on the formation of Municipal Budgets for the municipal leaders of Southern Westchester County.
As an independent candidate, who will work collaboratively with the Mayor and City Council, I am calling for an on-time budget today. There should have been lessons learned in 2019 and 2020 when there were late budgets. As Mount Vernon City Council members pursue forensic accounting on the recently obtained bank accounts, I am hopeful they (Mayor and City Council) begin to develop, in parallel, alternative strategies to deliver an on-time budget.
Voting for the same musical chairs- style candidates will only bring more of the same results. Share this message with your neighbors because I can[t do it alone. I need your support. Go to Supporters of Derickson Lawrence Campaign for more information.