Mayor Richard Thomas Weekly Report — January 13, 2018

Dear Mount Vernon Friends and Family,

This week, my administration spoke before the City Council and laid out our priorities for 2018. The good news is our colleagues in government have indicated a willingness to work with us to create jobs, raise property values, and lower taxes. These five key priorities will greatly enhance Mount Vernon’s quality of life and move our city forward.

The Five Key Priorities Are:

  • Passing the Cable Contract.
  • Moving Memorial Field Forward.
  • Completing a Comprehensive Plan.
  • Addressing our Broken Sewers.
  • Reinstating the Parking Authority.

Every year that the city fails to move forward on these priorities, we lose millions in revenue and hundreds of job opportunities.

Click here for a copy of the letter I gave the City Council.

Respectfully,

Mayor Richard Thomas

Mount Vernon IDA Succeeds in Keeping Local Economy Afloat

The Mount Vernon Industrial Development Agency has kicked off 2018 with a bang. The agency helped the city generate over $1.2 million in revenue in 2017, swayed a multi-national company to commit to expanding its operations here by another 150 positions, and is on the brink of inking new deals that will bring dozens of commercial jobs to Sandford Boulevard.

Learn more about how the MV IDA got the local economy going by reading an opinion piece by Deputy Director Sean McIntyre and also watch and SHARE a video highlighting the work done to improve City Hall’s performance in permit processing, plan reviews, and expediting other construction-related work.

CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW OUR MVIDA HAS ACTIVATED OUR LOCAL ECONOMY!

THE ROAD TO RESTAURANTS, TOURISM, AND NEW ECONOMY JOBS FOR MOUNT VERNON’S NEAR FUTURE

The road to success is never straight. It is riddled with obstacles ranging from potholes to people who simply want to go the wrong way. A recent report revealed that computers are threatening half-a-million jobs in the tri-state area. Mayor Thomas rejects repeating past economic mistakes and is working diligently to create a new sustainable jobs eco-system for the City of Mount Vernon. His vision for Mount Vernon includes opening shuttered store fronts and turning them into coffee shops, art galleries, outdoor public art displays, tech-centers and micro-manufacturing hubs. The recent S4 Study confirms that Mount Vernon can capitalize on its rich history to attract tourists and shoppers to patronize our downtown.

The objective is to increase local activity by $200 million leading to $17 million in NEW sales tax revenue generation. This is both possible and essential. It is vital that we continue to implement the economic plans developed by Mayor Thomas. This is the right way for jobs creation and reducing the city’s reliance on property taxes which is currently over 40% versus 19% and 21% of the tax levies for New Rochelle and White Plains, respectively.

Following lessons learned by Austin and Portland, the MVIDA is collaborating with local businesses and giving the legislative and fiscal branches of government leadership roles to keep growth growing. City Council President Lisa Copeland will be leading an economic development delegation to the home of MK Illumination in Innsbruck, Austria. MK is the parent company to American Christmas, which provides decorative lighting for the holidays for virtually every major Manhattan destination including Rockefeller Center, Saks Fifth Avenue, Radio City Music Hall and more. In Europe, the Mount Vernon delegation will learn how MK helped cities throughout the world increase tourism and discover new revenue streams year-round. We are excited that MK chose Mount Vernon as its North American headquarters as it will provide a competitive advantage to Mount Vernon’s strategy to become a new destination for tourism and micro-manufacturing.

New Leadership for the Mount Vernon IDA

Mayor Richard Thomas, in his role as Chairman of the MVIDA, also announced the appointment of two seasoned professionals both with governmental and private sector experience.

Eileen Mildenberger, an attorney, is assuming the role of executive director of the IDA. Prior to coming to Mount Vernon, Mildenberger served as director of Economic Development for Westchester County, and before that as executive director of the county’s IDA, where she helped attract more than $750 million in private sector capital investment, assisting businesses from start-up biotech companies to global giants like PepsiCo and IBM. Her earlier experience includes 12 years at the Empire State Development Corporation, the final three as chief operating officer, and years as a bankruptcy attorney in private practice.

Edwin J. (Ned) McCormack will serve as communications director of the IDA and senior adviser to the mayor. Prior to his Mount Vernon appointment, McCormack held a similar position in county government, working for the last eight years as director of communications for Westchester County and senior advisor for County Executive Robert P. Astorino. Prior to that he worked on Wall Street as a senior communications executive with J.P Morgan, Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. He began his career as a journalist, which included working at The New York Times and predecessor newspapers of the Journal News, such as the Mount Vernon Daily Argus, where he served as city editor. We are excited to have them on the team!

With respect to the MV IDA board, Comptroller Deborah Reynolds was invited to be on the Board; however, at this point in time she requested that we hold on appointing her to the agency until further notice from her. We hope she joins the board and look forward to bringing another business leader to the body as well.

State of the State Follow-up

As we reported last week, Mayor Richard Thomas, Council President Lisa Copeland, City Councilman Andre Wallace, City Councilwoman Janice Duarte, Comptroller Deborah Reynolds and Commissioner Joseph Nigro were invited by Governor Andrew Cuomo to attend his annual State of the State address.

The State of the State address is an official government event attended by hundreds of legislators, policy-makers, and staff from across New York State. With so many state officials in attendance, the event provides a particularly effective way to advocate on behalf of the city in a short amount of time. A key part of the trip was for the mayor, city council members and staff to bring a united voice to Albany to advocate on behalf of Mount Vernon and to make sure our city’s voice was heard at the highest level. Though Comptroller Reynolds was unable to make the trip due to a prior work obligation, representatives from the executive and legislative branches were there to help secure investment in new infrastructure projects as we all know our sewers, streets, and roads need work.

Now, more than ever, it’s important that we are united in the fight for Mount Vernon’s bright future. President Donald Trump’s tax cuts are likely to wreak havoc on many of the funding sources the city and school district relies on. From CHIPs monies to repave our roads to programming to keep young people engaged, all is at risk. A misguided opinion piece in a local paper attempted to question the city’s decision to bring our newly united team to Albany; however, as a majority-minority community, we know that sometimes we must work harder and show up stronger to make sure we aren’t overlooked. The article prompted the Mayor to reach out to the news and encourage them to stop trying to divide the newly united government which is determined to fix the broken system.

Continue to follow us on Facebook to see more how we are fighting for you, every day.

Mount Vernon Flood Preparations at Work

On Friday, Mayor Richard Thomas held a press conference outlining the steps that the city’s Departments of Public Works and Water had taken to prepare for Friday’s flood threat. The large volume of rain anticipated, compounded by rapidly melting snow piles, created a situation that could have led to some serious flooding in the city’s Flood Zone Advisory Areas which are:

  • S. 3rd Avenue (Columbus Avenue to Kingsbridge Road)
  • Gramatan Avenue (Roundabout)
  • S. Fulton Avenue (E. 3rd Street to Sandford Blvd.)
  • Franklin Avenue
  • Edison Avenue
  • Dock Street
  • E. 5th Street
  • Hutchinson Blvd
  • Brookside Avenue
  • Hanover Place (The Dam)
  • Summit Avenue

Because of the proactiveness of Mayor Richard Thomas, Commissioner Joseph Nigro, and Commissioner Benjamin Marable, all catch basins throughout the city were cleaned and free of debris. The sewers in advisory zones were flushed, ensuring that the incoming water would have somewhere to go and not into the basements of residents and business owners.

Click here for a report on what goes it to maintaining our infrastructure in advance of rain.

Mount Vernon Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

On Thursday, January 11, Mayor Richard Thomas and the City of Mount Vernon presented the Mount Vernon Martin Luther King Day of Service Awards in the City Council Chambers at City Hall. The program included a poignant recital of the “I Have a Dream” speech by the Amani Scholars as well as musical selection from Faith Christian Assembly. Mayor Richard Thomas was joined by County Legislator Lyndon Williams in awarding some of Mount Vernon’s most dedicated community servants with the MLK Day of Service award. MVPD Detective David Clarke, business owner Robert DeBenedictis, beautification task force leader Jeffrey “Shah” Holiday, and Y-COP founder Allen Ayers Jr are four special citizens who consistently go above and beyond when it comes to cleaning our city, mentoring our young people, and supporting Mount Vernon. Mayor Thomas also presented a special surprise award to Shayne Brooks for his leadership and commitment to the success of Mount Vernon’s Fresh Market food distribution, which is responsible for giving away over a quarter of a million pounds of food in just six months through a partnership with the Food Bank for Westchester.

Mayor Thomas Holds Police Promotion Ceremony

The Mount Vernon Police Department is continuing to strengthen its leadership with new promotions earned by hard-working men and women. On January 9, 2018, Mayor Thomas acknowledged these best and brightest by promoting them to higher ranks. We would like to honor and congratulate the following officers: Lieutenant Jose Quinoy (promoted from Sergeant), Detective Sergeant Wendell Griffin (promoted from Detective), Sergeant Aristotle Evans (promoted from Officer), Detective Jose Centeno (promoted from Officer), Detective Natasha Cheron (promoted from Officer), Detective Allen Patterson (promoted from Officer), and Jermain Patterson who was sworn in as a new officer.

Mayor Thomas Honors Mayor David Dinkins at Congressman Adriano Espaillat’s Policy Breakfast

On Friday, January 12, Mayor Richard Thomas joined leaders from across New York State in honoring Mayor David Dinkins, former New York State Comptroller Carl McCall, and former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson. The event, an annual policy gathering, hosted by Congressman Adriano Espaillat was in observance of Martin Luther King Day and honors African-American elected officials who have dedicated their career to serving others.

Listen to us live:

Mayor Richard Thomas is live and on-the-air several days a week, taking your calls, addressing your concerns, and answering your questions. See the schedule below and be sure to tune in!

On Tuesdays at 7:20 am, Mayor Richard Thomas joins WVOX’s Bob Marrone to discuss pressing political news in Mount Vernon, Westchester County, and the country. You can hear this week’s discussion here.

At 8:30 am, you can hear the Mayor on “Mornings with the Mayor” on 104.5 FM Linkage Radio. Listen to last week’s episode here.

On Wednesdays, the Mayor heads to Minister Patrick Tyson’s corner on Future FM Radio at 98.9 FM. Catch last week’s episode here.

On Thursdays, Mayor Thomas appears on “Westchester on the Level” BlogTalk Radio hosted by Hezi Aris of the Yonkers Tribune. This week’s interview can be found here. Listen to hear Mayor Richard Thomas discuss what it means now that the ethics board has been granted subpoena power.

On Fridays, the Mayor joins Fada Gassy for Gloves On Gloves Off on Future FM Radio at 98.9 FM. Catch last week’s episode here.

Mayor Thomas also hosts “Mount Vernon Moving Forward,” every Friday between 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm on WVOX 1460 AM Radio. This is your opportunity to call-in and speak to the Mayor directly. The number is 914–636–0110. You can listen to this week’s show here for a conversation with special guest Jim Killoran from Habitat for Humanity of Westchester.

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