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Ariana Lubelli Aug 10, 2017, 4:55 pmAug 11, 2017, 6:52 am

DOJ sues Mount Vernon after it says the city failed to clean up its water

Mayor Richard Thomas blames the issue on the city council, comptroller

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A sample of water taken from the Hutchinson River in Mount Vernon is the root of a lawsuit that Mayor Richard Thomas says has now been filed against the city by the Department of Justice.

"We are facing, and I quote, this is the letter from the department of justice, ‘significant monetary’ penalties," Mayor Thomas said.

For years, federal departments have demanded Mount Vernon clean their water ways. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued violations against the city since 2003.

The delay has come up with a build-up of fines, millions in penalties that will fall on the taxpayers.

Mayor Thomas says property taxes will inevitably go up to pay for the fines that have been accumulating since the first missed deadline in August 2016 when the city was supposed to have the first phase of a plan in place.

"I cannot promise taxpayers that their taxes will not go up significantly all because bad decisions were made to play politics and not focus on policy," Thomas said.

He puts the blame on the city council and Comptroller Maureen Walker who he says have ignored the EPA's order.

"It's shameful that provincial politics has put Mount Vernon taxpayers on the hook for potentially millions in devastating and avoidable penalties because Comptroller Walker, council members, the former Mayor Davis to block progress in the city," Walker said.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the EPA, calls for Mount Vernon to complete phase one which is mapping the sewer system. In order to do that, Mayor Thomas says the city needs more resources that have not been approved.

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