Mayor

City Employees in Mount Vernon Can't Cash Paychecks, Mayor Investigating

City employees in Mount Vernon are missing paychecks because of insufficient funds in the city's payroll account, the mayor says. 

Mayor Richard Thomas told News 4 that a transfer mistake left at least 10 city employees unable to get paid on Friday. But there are 700 full-time employees, and many are off for the holiday weekend -- so they may not have tried to cash their checks yet. 

The Department of Public Works commissioner was one of the employees who couldn't deposit his paycheck. 

"I tried to cash my own check, it was a glitch," said Frank Palone. "They would say the checks would just bounce." 

Thomas said he is "investigating this serious matter as many hard working families are seeking their hard earned dollars ahead of Memorial Day weekend." 

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City Comptroller Maureen Walker, who's been in office for 24 years, said the payroll problem was a computer upload delay when she moved more than $1 million from city coffers into the payroll account. 

"There was a time lag," she said. "Unfortunately it took a little longer this pay period." 

Thomas blamed Walker's "mismanagement" for the bounced checks and pointed to a 2015 audit from the state comptroller urging Mount Vernon to go digital like other cities.

"Operating by paper and pencil is unacceptable," he said. 

The comptroller says 80 percent of city employees use direct deposit: "You cannot force anyone who doesn't want direct deposit." 

Walker accused Thomas of targeting her as she runs for re-election this year.

"Get over your obsession with me and do the work you're supposed to be doing," she said.

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