Mount Vernon city comptroller denies misuse of funds, blames mayor
Mount Vernon's mayor and City Council don't know how much money the city has, and they are trying to finalize their budget.
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard made the comments during a Board of Estimate meeting Tuesday.
Patterson-Howard says she only has access to three of the city's 39 bank accounts, which have a combined total slightly more than $660,000.
The problem, she says, is Comptroller Deborah Reynolds won't allow her or the City Council to see how much is in the other accounts or their fund balance, which is like a savings account for situations like this.
"I'm concerned right now that she is stealing and robbing Mount Vernon taxpayers of their money while claiming to be the keeper of the finances," she said. "There should still be about $7,900,000 left in the fund balance."
Reynolds did not attend the Board of Estimate meeting held Tuesday when the financial crisis was discussed.
The mayor believes the city is facing a $5.5 million shortfall, which would translate to an 11% property tax hike.
The city is considering leaving 33 positions vacant and laying off an additional 60 employees - including police officers, firefighters and DPW workers.
"Our city deeply cutting public safety and sanitation and administrative services would be an insult -- not only to our workers, but to our stakeholders and our taxpayers," Patterson-Howard said.
She is asking the Westchester County district attorney to investigate Reynolds, and formally requested Tuesday night for the City Council to pass legislation requesting that the state Legislature send a financial crisis board into the city to help.
However, Reynolds tells News 12 that no one, including her, knows how much is in the fund balance.
"There's no way of Shawyn Patterson-Howard putting out a number of a fund balance when the auditors have not actually audited us since 2015. How would she come up with 16, 17 or 18 numbers? I couldn't even do that," she said.
Reynolds says she blames the mayor for misusing the funds.
"The mayor is trying to cover up the funds she misused during COVID and wants to blame me for her reckless spending," said Reynolds.