With the clock ticking on an end-of-the-year deadline to approve a 2013 budget, the Mount Vernon City Council took no action on the $93.3 million spending package at a meeting Friday, setting the stage for a showdown next week with Mayor Ernie Davis.
Davis is vowing to unilaterally adopt the city's 2013 budget -- which includes a 6.65 percent property tax increase -- if the City Council doesn't approve it before Tuesday.
Davis is looking to implement the version of the budget approved by the Board of Estimate and Contract on Dec. 13 because, he argues, the city needs to cover state-mandated cost increases, salary raises promised in labor contracts and other bills that have resulted in a $5.6 million budget gap for 2013.
Council members have met at least twice this week and failed to take action. There is talk of another City Council meeting on Monday, but it's not clear whether the budget will be discussed.
The board is divided over what cuts the city can make to offset the proposed tax increase, which has been reduced from the original 9.8 percent proposal.
To lower the tax rate, Davis has proposed cutting the library funding to $3.3 million, about $250,000 less than the previous year, and borrowing $2.5 million to pay outstanding tax challenges residents filed against the city.
Democratic Councilman Richard Thomas, who says he will vote against Davis' budget because, among other reasons, it doesn't provide enough public safety funding.
Mount Vernon Comptroller Maureen Walker, the city's financial watchdog, also has said she opposes Davis' proposed budget because it relies too heavily on borrowing to pay the city's outstanding bills, among other criticisms.
Davis didn't immediately return a phone call Friday morning seeking comment on the budget impasse. Other Council members couldn't be reached.
A spokesman for state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said city budgets are governed by local charters and declined to comment on the impasse.
Good government groups say city charters in New York have more flexibility than county and town governments when it comes to the authority of the executive branch to adopt a budget without legislative approval.
"There are all sorts of default mechanisms for approving a budget, and it really depends on what the city's charter says," said Frank Mauro, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, an Albany-based government think-tank.