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Video: Fireworks at Utica E&A Meeting

Jeff Monaski-WIBX

Utica, NY (WIBX) – There were fireworks Wednesday morning at a Utica Estimate & Apportionment meeting, and again the topic was the outstanding JK Hage bill for the GroWest investigation.

City Comptroller Michael Cerminaro is demanding that Hage provide a back-up bill verifying all the charges.

“[That] never has happened before. The comptroller, including Mr. Cerminaro has never asked for anything more than an itemized bill for any professional that has billed the city, that includes architects, engineers, attorneys…”, said Corporation Counsel, Linda Sullivan Fatata.

Cerminaro admits he’s never made such a request before, but believes he is justified. “You’re dealing with a bill that is just so enormous that people are crying out for a full and complete investigative audit of this bill and this whole situation surrounding this quote-unquote investigation.”

Cerminaro says he is defending the taxpayers of the city while Mayor David Roefaro and Fatata are supporting Hage.

That bill submitted in late-September was $177,118.12, but Hage said that was a discounted rate. Because of the comptroller’s refusal to pay, Hage said the discount was gone at billed the city $213,118.12. And, he’s charging interest. Thus far, the interest totals at least $5,000, Fatata said.

Cerminaro Attorney

Cerminaro is also asking that the city to pay for an attorney to defend him as the Roefaro administration is in the process of suing him over the unpaid bill. The issue was scheduled to be voted on at Wednesday’s E&A meeting, but was tabled at the request of Councilman Edward Buccerio. Buccerio wanted to get input for the full council before the vote, he said. 

Morehouse Running For Mayor 

Following the heated E&A meeting, WIBX spoke to Council President Bill Morehouse who indicated that he may be mulling a run for mayor, in part, because of the ’embarassing’ meeting.

“My big concern is, you have two elected officials who are really putting the city in an embarassing position. It really makes me think, the heck with running for president of the common council, I need to run for mayor next time out. We need to change the way this city’s going.”

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