Publicist Andrew Moesel submitted a proposal that states, “In recent months, the City Council has experienced difficulty creating a productive two-way dialogue with its constituents.” This proposal calls for a $3,000 monthly retainer plus expenses for “letter writing, community forum organizing, media relations and other services”. So, what would be the actual cost to our tax payers? If other municipalities have one unified website for public information, why does this City Council need to hire a separate public relations firm?
Let’s reflect upon the alternative budget which passed the Board of Estimates and Contract without public input by a 2-1 vote of the Comptroller Maureen Walker and Council President Yuhanna Edward’s vote against Mayor Young’s vote on December 30. Rushed to City Council, this budget passed 4-1 with Steven Horton the sole dissenting vote. Unlike Mayor Young’s proposed budget which would increase municipal taxes by as little as 1.82%, while maintaining current service levels and adding $350,000 to the budget of the Mount Vernon Public Library, the alternative budget calls for a tax increase of 4.4%. Criticizing Mayor Young for using $3.7 million in reserve funds, Comptroller Walker found $5.4 million in reserve funds for her alternative budget which underestimates revenues by millions and creates higher than necessary tax rates. This is how Maureen Walker claims credit for budget surpluses created on the backs of us, the taxpayers.
Unfortunately, this purely political budget eliminates two critical positions from the Office of the Mayor and reduces his budget by 24%. Meanwhile, the Comptroller’s Office and the City Clerk’s Office have added positions and salary. The City Council increased its budget by 46%. Why? To continue fighting the Office of Inspector General and to hire a public relations firm to advance their political aspirations.