Mount Vernon opens books, reveals $60 million in debts

For the first time in four years, the Mount Vernon comptroller has opened the city's books and has revealed the city has more than $60 million in debt.

News 12 Staff

Jul 13, 2022, 10:05 AM

Updated 675 days ago

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For the first time in four years, the Mount Vernon comptroller has opened the city's books and has revealed the city has more than $60 million in debt.
According to the newly released financial report looking at the first quarter of this year, the city's unpaid liabilities include:
  • $21 million in state health benefits
  • $12 million to the local school district
  • $8 million in outstanding vendor and legal obligations
City Comptroller Dr. Darren Morton found the city fell about $5 million short of its revenue projections for the first three months of the year, which could lead to budget cuts down the line.Overtime costs are still a key area of concern for the city, according to Morton.
Overtime costs are still a key area of concern for the city, according to Morton.
Morton says the lack of financial transparency over the last decade has led to crumbling city services and infrastructure including, flooding, canceling garbage pickup, and potholes.
Morton called the road to financial recovery "an evolving process" and is committed to public transparency going forward.
"While the financial information is sobering with due diligence, collaboration, and controlled spending there is a pathway to financial recovery," he says.
Morton said the city must implement several strategies to improve the city's financial stability going forward, like completing the 2016 city audit before the third quarter of this year, identifying non-property tax revenue streams and selling city-owned properties to restore the tax roll.
Some say it's a good start. "I know it's been rough. It's like any job. You come into a job, and you don't know what happened before - but you try to fix it, and I believe he's going to do that," says Karen Fountain, of Mount Vernon.
Morton says preliminary results show the city is in a better cash position for the second quarter of this year, but he stressed it's going to take time to get back on track.


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