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Stricter Policy for Billings to be Adopted by Lewiston Town Board, Supervisor;

Supervisor Dennis Brochey
Councilman Ron Winkley
Mike Marra and Steve Reiter.

Dowd's $3,000 Bill to be Paid, Making $89,000 paid for 2013 to Local Attorney

Last week, the Niagara Falls Reporter published an item that indicated former Town Attorney Michael Dowd had submitted an $89,000 bill to the town.

In fact, Dowd submitted a bill for $3,000 which, when added to the $86,000 the town has already paid him, totals $89,000.

The $3,000 bill was submitted to the Town Board without proper information regarding what it was for and when services were performed.

"After reviewing Mr. Dowd's invoice, I initially questioned it because there were no dates indicating when the legal services were provided," Town Supervisor Dennis Brochey told the Reporter.

The bill, the Reporter learned, was for a road dedication for a subdivision, and for Dowd appearing in the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Rochester on behalf of the Legacy Drive project.

Councilman Mike Marra told the Reporter he called Dowd and the current Town Attorney Mark Davis demanding answers after reading the item in the Reporter late Tuesday.

"I'm satisfied with the explanation I received from Mr. Dowd," Marra said. "Mr. Dowd provided me with an itemized breakout of the expenses he was actually billing for."

Brochey, who assumed the office of supervisor this year, is satisfied as well - at least regarding the latest bill received by Dowd which was for services rendered during the previous administration.

"Last week, Mr. Dowd came to my office to discuss the voucher further and within two days he resubmitted a proper voucher with the dates of service added," Brochey said.

Dowd, after becoming aware of the Reporter's story, prepared similar information for Marra and Councilmen Ron Winkley and Al Bax.

Marra said he, Bax and Winkley are revamping approval and oversight procedures at town hall to ensure that all expenditures receive better oversight, and that he plans to ask department heads and other town employees to itemize expense breakouts more fully.

"We have an obligation to watch the people's money very closely and prevent misuse," Councilman Winkley said.

Winkley added that, according to Town Attorney Davis, Dowd's $3,000 bill stems from an eminent domain matter he was arguing in which the town prevailed.

"The developer in question," Winkley explained, "had over $40,000 in an escrow account that was earmarked for engineering and legal expenses. So the short of it is the developer will be paying for Dowd's voucher-not the taxpayers."

Brochey confirmed that this was his understanding as well.

"I will be issuing Mr. Dowd a check later this week for the subject voucher," Brochey said. "The voucher will not be paid with taxpayer money but instead from an escrow account funded by the developer of the project."

In the meantime, Mara, Winkley and Bax, who represent the Republican majority on the Town Board, have committed to develop a strict oversight policy and to work with the sole Democrat, Brochey, to ensure the policy is enforced.

Brochey wrote in an email to the Reporter, "I want you to know that I appreciate your efforts to hold elected officials accountable."



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Feb 25, 2014