MOUNT VERNON — In a scathing document signed by the city’s mayor, Mount Vernon issued a state of emergency Thursday over what it calls “a public health and safety crisis” sparked by the “gross negligence and dereliction of duty” by the city’s comptroller.
The City of Mount Vernon alleges in the letter that the comptroller — who is not named in the document at all, though the position is held by Deborah Reynolds — has failed to pay involves for parts and/or critical maintenance of police, fire and public works vehicles, affecting nearly the entire fleet and totaling about $500,000.
Interim plans include borrowing and sharing of equipment, supplies and vehicles, as well as using American Rescue Plan money toward official vehicles “to prevent a public health crisis from spreading in Mount Vernon.” Rentals will be used in the meantime, the mayor said.
All city agencies are directed to take whatever steps necessary to “protect life and property, public infrastructure” and provide emergency services.
In March, a lohud report detailed accusations against Reynolds made by Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, alleging Reynolds did not pay fuel bills. Reynolds fired back and blamed the mayor, the lohud article stated.
On Wednesday, several garbage trucks in the city’s fleet were declared unsafe, affecting trash collection, according to a Patch article. The issue stemmed from the city’s debt to a tire company of more than $45,000, as well as Reynolds’ unwillingness to release authorized funs to repair or replace inoperable trucks, Patch said.
In a Persicope video poste to Twitter Thursday, Patterson-Howard addressed the state of emergency and its pertinence to the garbage situation.
She said the city has known that several of its garbage trucks are decades old and in disrepair — though the state of emergency declaration implied that the comptroller has blocked expenditures to address the problem.
By declaring the state of emergency, the city was able to reach out to “municipal partners.” Tweets from the Mount Vernon mayor, as well as State Sen. Jamaal Bailey, who represents the are and parts of the Bronx, announced that New York City Sanitation Department will loan eight trucks to Mount Vernon for 90 days to help the situation.
Other municipal partners helped as well, including Yonkers.
Local garbage pickup is on an amended schedule due to the issue.