Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mayor sets policy for paying legal bills

Mayor Donna Holaday last night sent notification to the City Council of her policy on paying legal bills because of the current "disconnect" in paying these bills.

All legal bills will now be received and time stamped by the Mayor's Office and will be entered into a new database ... bills will be tracked, as will the checks issued by the departments ... after two weeks, if no payment has been received by Kopelman & Paige (the city solicitor), the database will identify the check as delinquent.

"The goal of this policy is that it will create synergy among the departments required to participate in the payment process. It will also create accountability and will give the Mayor's Office the ability to quickly and easily identify."

(There was no reporter from the Daily News at last night's City Council meeting. What else do you want to know about?)


Dan Sweeney said...

I don't see a change in legal bill payment policy from what has been done for the past administrations. No addressing the authority of Commissions to pay bills that they question has changed. Signatures from commissioners will still be needed to pay any bill. Monies will still need to be transfered by Mayoral and Audit request to the City Council when unaccounted expendatures are found! Presentations to the City Council will still need to contain the correct information for their decision making and oversight.
Where is the change? A lot of hoopla to cover her mistake in addressing the bills at a late date.

Dan Sweeney

Ari Herzog said...


Was there a central electronic database last year, that all legal bills of all departments could be tracked?

Dan Sweeney said...


Yes, MUNIS has a line by line and a vendor match base to track all invoices. The real problem comes when humans take charge. Bills from legal at one time (were) intermingled on one invoice for all departments and needed to be separated by line for each instance /issue. We requested that all sewer bills be separately invoiced exacting the project or issue so that the proper departments and line items would be paying the proper bills.

Again, when it comes to commissions, the law is pretty clear that a majority of the commissioners must sign off on the warrant before the bill is paid and it is up to the Mayor, Auditor and City Council to transfer to fund the proper FY accounts and issues to be paid. Of course one would need to be aware of the issue and make a proper presentation to the council before the decision could be made of just how much would be needed to cover unexpected expenses, as the past director had always insisted on providing.

I have an extensive data base dating to 2003 on all sewer department expenditures, transfers and also bills not authorized to be paid by order of the sewer commission. Many invoices are adjusted when challenged.

You may ask the Auditor for a vendor readout for any vendor (or specific legal representation) for any of the past three years and it can be produced in seconds. Broken down by department check # , FY and amount.