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Sometimes We Need to Go Slow to Go Fast with $42.63 million of Newly-Found Tax Money.

As a candidate for City of Mount Vernon Comptroller, you have heard me lament the drama – filled Board of Estimates and Control (BOE&C) meetings for the past three months. And even though of late, the current City Comptroller has been MIA, the edge-of-your-seat meetings are still filled with shockers. They never seem to disappoint.

The most recent eye-popping event from City Hall was using the Board of Water Supply as the source to receive federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan to the tune of $42.63 million dollars; as opposed to earmarking the funds to the Office of Comptroller.

There are several reasons why this idea should be a non-starter. The first is, this is a once in a three-decade funding event. The second is the financial turmoil and embarrassing legacy we have had in Mount Vernon, around our still unaudited money centers: IDA, Urban Renewal and the Board of Water Supply.

This should have flashing yellow lights all over it. But citizens are constantly dragged into these starts and stop.

Since New York State has made the allocations for each county and municipality; as well as provided broad guidelines of how those funds should be spent; the local focus should be on transparency and on how those funds are going to be spent.

If elected comptroller, here is how I would guide the process.

It’s time for us to shift gears from firefighting and finger-pointing, to tactical and long-term planning, especially for these newly appropriate funds.

The City of Mount Vernon have been earmarked to receive more than its neighboring peers. That’s a good thing. For example, White Plains is getting $21.98 million, New Rochelle is getting $36.19; with the exception of Yonkers, which is getting $89 Million and is roughly four times Mount Vernon’s population.

Quite frankly, this is a not the time for haste. But rather a time to step back and reflect on a “Do No Harm” policy.

Sometimes we need to go slow to go fast!

Transparency is king and it will eliminate backroom dealing. Quite simply, the BOE&C should call a public session. Some great ideas can come from the public.

Actually, every municipality in our county should have such a meeting where the public is invited to have input into the spending of the appropriations from American Rescue Plan.

More specifically, if funds are going to be appropriated to assist households; or, small business and not-for profits, I would a) declare the dollar amounts for each; b) set up the criteria for eligibility; c) be clear about the window for submission. This way, voters have a say in how we spend the newly-found “mad money.”

The author can be reached on https://www.dericksonforcomptroller.com/



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