MOUNT VERNON, NY – June 6, 2019 — When we talk about development in Mount Vernon, we must talk about planning for growth and our future. However, our city hasn’t seen a new Master Plan for development since man first walked on the moon. A Master Plan is a carefully considered outline that takes many factors into consideration so that we can ensure a high quality of life and steady economic development.
Eight years ago, after spending considerable time and money, Mount Vernon was close to completing such a plan. However, a new mayoral administration came in and the effort was abandoned. In the three and a half years since the Thomas’ administration has been in office there has been no movement towards any real plan for development.
In my first days as Mayor, I’d assemble a diverse team of professionals and community stakeholders to examine the abandoned Master Plan. They’d analyze what parts of that plan are still relevant and what needs to be changed or added. With input from residents and the business community we will develop a plan that will provide a roadmap to a better Mount Vernon with a stronger tax base and less reliance on property owners to carry the burden.
Any conversation about Mount Vernon development must include reforming the practices of the city’s Industrial Development Agency (MVIDA) and its overly generous and misguided PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) program. The makeup of the MVIDA must be changed to include better representation of city government and the community. Transparency in the agency is non-existent and must be improved and taxpayers should no longer shoulder the burden of these generous giveaways.
In particular, there must be a shift in the philosophy behind why a PILOT is awarded. Projects receiving consideration for the tax breaks should have a defined economic development and job creation benefit to Mount Vernon and any agreement should have “claw back” provisions to ensure that developers live up to their promises. Also, the length of any PILOT should not exceed the timeframe of the projects financing plan. The forty-year PILOT agreements being awarded are absurd. And, when a PILOT property changes hands, the agreement should not be transferred and, instead, re-negotiated with the new owner.
Finally, a marketing component must be built into the Mount Vernon Industrial Development Agency (MVIDA). Our advantageous location is no secret to Mount Vernonites.
However, a concerted effort must take place to promote our city to developers, business owners and those people seeking escape from the enormous New York City cost of living.
It’s time for Mount Vernon’s IDA to actually benefit our city and not just the developers. Proven leadership and experience are paramount to making that happen. Vote on June 25.
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Clyde Isley is the Mount Vernon Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate for Mayor. More information can be found at www.isleyformayor.com.
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SOURCE: Hank Miller, Communications Director, Clyde A. Isley for Mayor of Mount Vernon.