Niagara Gazette — Major cuts to consulting lines in this year’s budget may cause issues for the city in 2013.
Mayor Paul Dyster said $188,500 cut from consulting lines in various city departments through city council amendments could prevent work from being completed this year, could mean the city will miss out on grant opportunities and may even be held responsible for repaying grants it has already accepted.
“In whatever department you have jobs that need to get done that require expertise that city employees don’t possess,” Dyster said.
Dyster attempted to veto four of the six cuts made by council amendments during deliberations on the 2013 municipal budget. The move would restored $175,000 into the expenditure column of the budget but the vetoes were overturned in unanimous votes by the city council.
Of particular concern were cuts to consulting lines meant for the corporation counsel, engineering department and a grant writing consultant, Dyster said.
For Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson and the law department, Dyster said a $50,000 reduction in consulting funds means legal battles - like the city’s ongoing fight with Man O’ Trees Inc. over the Lewiston Road reconstruction project - could be left solely to attorneys working inside City Hall.
Attorney’s from the Hodgson Russ law firm have been representing the city on that case and Dyster noted that they were able to get a court injunction thrown out in September, allowing the city to hire Accadia Site Contracting Inc. to complete Lewiston Road work. The long stalled-road project reopened to two-way traffic in December.
Dyster said it is important for the city to be prepared to fight legal battles, adding that having the option of using an outside firm for big cases ensures that the city can better protect itself in the courtroom.
“Being prepared to vigorously protect our interests will cause all the various parties to respect those interests,” Dyster said.