New York

‘There's Garbage Everywhere': Fiscal Feud in Mount Vernon Sidelines Essential Services

A fiscal feud playing out at city hall has sidelined essential government vehicles and left a city looking for answers

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Money troubles in Mount Vernon have caught the attention of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who on Friday directed a number of state agencies to step in and assist with garbage collection following the mayor's state of emergency declaration.

Mount Vernon's mayor declared a state of emergency to get help with garbage collection after its fleet of trucks were sidelined due to safety concerns. Nearly the entire fleet has been pulled, as have a number of patrols cars and even a fire engine.

"We gotta figure something out because the residents are suffering," Nicole Jones said Friday. Jones has lived in Mount Vernon her entire life and says she's fed up with what's going on.

"It's embarrassing at this point and of course frustrating because I have a business here in Mount Vernon, and who wants to invite people here to support your business if there's garbage everywhere."

Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard alleges numerous invoices have gone unpaid with the city owing thousands to make necessary repairs to city vehicles. She didn't hold back Friday, saying it was "due to the gross negligence and dereliction of duty by the comptroller."

"Yesterday was a crushing day when we had to pull back services, but today they're finding ways to shine and finding ways to respond," the mayor said Friday.

The bitter battle between the mayor and comptroller has been playing out at City Hall with no signs of slowing down. That fight, between the city's top officials, hit a new peak after the mayor declared the state of emergency.

"My garbage wasn't picked up, ok. I'm the mayor, so everyone has been impacted."

Mount Vernon's mayor says crews were able to use small trucks Friday to start picking up trash, but even she's at her wits end. Some help is on the way: Yonkers and New York City have offered the city support, as did the governor late Friday.

"Mount Vernon's citizens are suffering as the city resolves longstanding issues over the funding of its services, and this administration is stepping in to ensure government continues to function," Cuomo said in a statement. "State agencies will deploy trucks to Mount Vernon to make sure the city is able to keep the streets clean and collect its trash for the next two weeks."

No one from the city's finance office would speak to News 4 on Friday, but a representative shared a letter from the comptroller addressed to the mayor. That letter reads in part: "Blaming me for your incompetence does not correct the problems Mount Vernon is facing."

A letter sent to the Mount Vernon mayor from the city's comptroller.

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