MOUNT VERNON, NY — September 29, 2016 — Comptroller Maureen Walker is distracting from the truth – pure and simple. The fact is: Mount Vernon homeowners have a right to tax relief and our budget will make it possible for them to get a break. Our smart and careful use of taxpayer dollars in the proposed 2017 budget allows homeowners to be ELIGIBLE for money back on their property taxes. (See the official New York State Department of Taxation and Finance information sheet [here]).
Last year’s budget cost the taxpayers money because the City of Mount Vernon chose not to comply with the tax freeze eligibility requirements. Why didn’t the Comptroller protest then? Here silence amounts to betrayal. Our budget ensures that the people of Mount Vernon are able to access the relief that they deserve via the property tax relief credit. [link]. Comptroller Walker has an opportunity to have a positive impact on people’s pocketbooks for a change; it’s time she joined us in a new era of fiscal accountability. Her hostility will not prevent us from seizing the opportunity. We can and we should be working together to make Mount Vernon magnificent.
Mayor Richard Thomas
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Mayor Richard Thomas’ response was precipitated by Maureen Walker’s letter as follows:
September 28, 2016
To: Hon. Council Members
Dear Council Members:
The 2017 proposed budget by Mayor Thomas promised the homeowners a rebate of $500 based on the tax cap. Stated below is the research done by the Comptroller’s Office on the Mayor’s promise which indicates that his statement is simply untrue and misleading to the general public. The Comptroller’s Office continues to review and analyze line items presented in the Mayor’s proposed 2017 budget and will keep the City Council informed of our findings.
Mayor Thomas $500 Rebate Statement Does Not Pass The Reality Check
Mayor Thomas’s statement “Our 2017 budget makes Mount Vernon eligible for a NYS property tax rebate estimated at $500 per household.”
Fact: Mount Vernon City (local government)) property owners should not expect to receive a rebate from New York State for the 2017 fiscal year based on the 2017 budget despite promises from Mayor Thomas.
Fact: The tax freeze program was in effect for local governments for Fiscal years 2015 and 2016.
Fact: There is no local government tax freeze credit for the 2017 fiscal year..
Fact: Even if the tax freeze credit were still in effect, the City of Mount Vernon local government would not have satisfied the requirements for the NYS property tax rebate.
Mayor Thomas exhibits gross incompetence and a lack of leadership for publicly promising a rebate to homeowners as a result of the proposed 2017 city budget. Misleading the general public on an issue such as this is heartless and cruel. Once again, Mayor Thomas exhibits a total lack of understanding of basic and simple accounting and financial policies and procedures.
As the City Comptroller, I am requesting that Mayor Thomas publicly withdraw the statement made in reference to the promised receipt of this rebate.
Maureen Walker, CPA