By Kevin Beese
Broadview’s vendors will need to wait another two weeks for their money after village trustees this week could not come to an agreement on which bills would be paid.
More than $700,000 in payments will be delayed because of the stalemate, much of which was generated by disagreement over billing from the law firm that had served as legislative counsel for trustees.
After much discussion and three unsuccessful efforts to approve paying the bills at Monday night’s Village Board meeting, trustees moved on to other business.
“The bills will not be paid,” Mayor Katrina Thompson said after one proposal died for the lack of a second, a second unsuccessful vote was taken, and no other motion was put forth to rectify the issue.
Much of the contention focused on a $9,497 bill from Ancel Glink, the law firm that had served as legislative counsel to represent the trustees under the administration of former Mayor Sherman Jones. Trustees, the majority of which were members of the Better Broadview Party, said the separate counsel was needed to represent their interests as the village’s former law firm, Fornaro Law, was appointed by the mayor, a member of the Broadview People’s Party, and represented his interested in village issues.
Jones, who now serves as a trustee, said he did not have a problem paying Ancel Glink for its work as legislative counsel, but did balk at line items in the firm’s billing regarding the election and the transition to a new Village Board.
“There are items that can be considered not legislative counsel items,” Jones said. “There is a line item about the election. That is political.”
Jones had initially sought to have Ancel Glink’s entire bill removed from the payment schedule. However, that failed by a 4-2 vote, with Trustees Tara Brewer, Judy Brown-Marino, John Ealey and Verina Horne voting “no.”
Voting in favor of pulling the Ancel Glink bill in its entirety were Trustees Judy Abraham and Jones.
Horne said that the law firm should be paid for the legislative work it had done and not have its bill totally removed from the payment registry.
Horne would then propose that Ancel Glink be paid $5,380 for items determined to be legislative work, but that motion died for the lack of a second.
“I am fine with paying the $5,380,” Horne said, “but the other matters are not considered legislative counsel. There were hired to be legislative counsel.”
Ancel Glink was dismissed as trustees’ legislative counsel when the People’s Party got a board majority and took over in May.
Many of the trustees also had an issue with a $4,900 bill from an electric contractor that appeared to be for two village jobs being done at the same time. Some wanted checking done to ensure it was not double-billing for the same job.
Brewer proposed that the bills all be approved as presented, but she was the only trustee to vote for that measure and it was defeated 5-1. Brown-Marino contends that the village is violating municipal law by approving expenditures without a budget for this fiscal year being in place.
“We are spending money without a budget,” Brown-Marino said. “We don’t have a budget ordinance passed so these expenditures are not legal.”
Brewer said it was ironic that the People’s Party trustees and the mayor at their first meeting in May approved previously held-up bills, including one apparently fraudulently submitted, “to pay it and move forward,” but now those same trustees have no problem holding up paying Ancel Glink for its work.
Thompson would later say during her president’s report that she felt “Ancel Glink crossed the line in some areas” with its billing.
Brewer said she had not reviewed the bills as she is “still locked out” of Village Hall.
Thompson said there are set hours when trustees can view the bills and that if they want to go in during non-office hours they can contact her to arrange a time.
The mayor had said at an earlier meeting that the locks were changed to increase security and so that trustees were not accessing records and documents after hours when no one else was present.
“With all due respect, I am a grown woman,” Brewer said. “It’s incredible that someone is going to let me in to see the bills.”