New York Town Loses Police, Fire, And Garbage Vehicles Over Unpaid Bills

Police car lights

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The mayor of Mount Vernon, New York, declared a state of emergency after the town's entire fleet of police, fire, and garbage vehicles had to be taken off the road. The vehicles fell into a state of disrepair after the town's comptroller failed to pay over $500,000 in invoices, Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard said.

"If she paid the bills on time and regularly collected the taxes that she has been elected to do, then we would not have this kind of cash flow problem in the City of Mount Vernon and interruption of services," she explained.

The issues have been going on for several years, but an inspection on the town's 14 garbage trucks revealed balding tires, which made them unsafe to operate. They found a host of issues when inspecting the town's 19 police cars and singe firetruck.

"Over the past few years, it's been hard to challenge replacement parts, and because of the lack of cooperation with our comptroller, over the last six months to a year, we haven't been able to get any replacement parts," another town official said, according to WNBC. "If we put (the vehicles) out on the road, we'll be doing more harm. Could cause an accident, harm our drivers or residents."

Local officials are working on borrowing garbage trucks from neighboring cities, hoping to prevent a lengthy disruption in garbage pickup. They promised residents that if they called 911, somebody would respond but noted the response time may be longer than usual.

Comptroller Deborah Reynolds pushed back at the allegations that she was to blame for the issue and claimed that Patterson-Howard doesn't have the authority to declare a state of emergency.

"What you did yesterday to the residents of Mount Vernon by not picking up their garbage is unconscionable and a dereliction of your duties," Reynolds wrote in a letter to the mayor. "Blaming me for your incompetence does not correct the problems Mount Vernon is facing."