Mayor Thomas: Department of Justice to file lawsuit against City of Mount Vernon
On Thursday, August 10, in the Mayor's Conference Room, Mayor Richard Thomas held a press conference to discuss the Department of Justice’s notice of an intention to file a lawsuit against the City of Mount Vernon for violations of the Clean Water Act and a systemic refusal to adhere to environmental consent orders since 2003. The following are his comments:
For over fourteen years, the City Council and Comptroller Maureen Walker have failed to act and have ignored two consent orders from the Environmental Protection Agency. This week, the Department of Justice formally announced its intention to file suit against the City of Mount Vernon and levy a “significant monetary penalty” that is likely to run into the millions and significantly impact property taxes,” said Mayor Thomas.
The cost of defiance is far more expensive than compliance. Comptroller Maureen Walker and the City Council deliberately defied numerous warnings from our administration about the threat of monetary penalties for neglecting our infrastructure. The Department of Justice had to step in and force the obstructionists to simply start working with us 18 months into my tenure as Mayor. My agenda has never changed - fix the broken system. Fix Memorial Field, and fix our broke infrastructure. This includes cleaning up our waterways, restoring our parks, and protecting the people we were elected to serve.
It is shameful that provincial politics has put Mount Vernon taxpayers on the hook for potentially millions in penalties. This costly situation was avoidable had Comptroller Walker and the City Council decided to put the people of Mount Vernon over their petty politics. As the Department of Justice wrote, this will result in a “significant monetary penalty” which likely translates into a significant property tax increase.
Our residents suffer from high taxes and the additional pain of the loss of access to their yards, damage to their possessions, and costly plumbing bills because raw sewage has ruined precious moments. The facts are clear. Gridlock and political animus are jeopardizing our future and Comptroller Walker and the City Council, particularly Marcus Griffith and Andre Wallace, must be held accountable for the consequences of this environmental and fiscal crisis.