Campana: Late, unpaid bills due to overworked staff

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana squarely placed blame Tuesday before the City Council finance committee on unpaid bills and late invoices due to an overworked and under-staffed finance department.

“We can’t have occurrence of some of these issues,” Campana said, acknowledging a crisis of unpaid bills existed and was going to be resolved.

He compared the city of Altoona’s finance staff as double in size and budget to the city’s.

He blasted back at critics who blame him for questioning his management of the city.

Most recently, a firm hired by contract to work on the levee recertification stopped its job when it wasn’t getting paid.

“This administration needs to get its act together,” Councilman Derek Slaughter said in a letter he delivered Tuesday by email to the mayor.

Such discussion at the last council meeting upset the mayor and his staff.

“I am very reluctant to vote to authorize the expenditure of another dime of taxpayers’ money until it is clear that we are properly managing and processing tax revenues, state and federal funds, grants and any other money the city receives,” Slaughter said.

A plan has been put in place to hire an employee to work in the finance office doing accounts payable work.

The plan uses funds from River Valley Transit until the city can finance the position full-time.

Also, money sitting in city coffers may be able to be moved into interest-bearing bank accounts that could help to fund a general fund budget item for a full-time finance position, according to Nicholas Grimes, city treasurer and tax collector.

In other business, the committee also gave a positive recommended to forgiving about $3,000 in liens to a property to be put under renovation at 523 Fifth Ave.

The committee discussed wanting to hear from insurance consultant Jill Nagy at council meeting this week.

Campana said he pulled the recent request for proposals to brokers looking for insurance agencies to provide liability and workers’ compensation due to potential litigation.

Currently, the city uses Henry Dunn Inc. as its broker for liability insurance and Sims Agency for workers’ compensation.