State Reviewing Legal Bills in Flood Overtime Hearings

 

PATERSON, NJ – State officials are reviewing the bills submitted by the lawyer who represented the City Council during the flood overtime hearings because the costs would exceed the amount originally authorized.

In 2011, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) approved the City Council’s request to spend$7,500 on legal fees for Michael DeMarco for the overtime hearings. The city already has paid DeMarco $6,331 for work he did last year between October 27 and December 29.

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But last month, DeMarco submitted another invoice for $5,300 for work between January 3 and June 20. The bulk of that bill involved work DeMarco did for the council in response to Mayor Jeffrey Jones’ legal challenge to the terminations and suspensions imposed against four Cabinet members.

The June bill, which the City Council approved for payment earlier this month, would put DeMarco about $4,130 above the $7,500 limit that the state authorized last year. As a result, the state has put a hold on that payment until it can review the situation.

“We are reviewing the matter at this time and therefore have no comment,’’ said state spokeswoman Tammori Petty.

“We knew we were going to exceed that because of the time involved with the order to show cause filed by the mayor,’’ DeMarco said. “It is what it is.’’

When asked whether he had any concerns about getting paid, DeMarco rresponded, “”I have none.’’

DeMarco currently is representing former councilman Aslon Goow in his bid to have Councilman Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman’s victory in the May 8 election voided.

Meanwhile, it’s still not clear how much in fees the attorney hired to represent Jones in the overtime hearings has rung up in bills. That lawyer, Richard Potter, submitted an initial bill for $3,937 on Dec. 22, 2011. But Paterson has received no other billings from Potter regarding the legal work he did for the mayor challenging the council’s authority to discipline his Cabinet members, according to documents provided to PatersonPress.com through an Open Public Records Act request. Potter’s limit also was $7,500.

Jones has said he is asking the state to extend Potter’s limit so he can appeal the court decision on the discipline challenge.

Both DeMarco and Potter were paid at the rate of $125 per hour. The DCA has oversight on certain city financial issues through an agreement under which the state provided Paterson $21 million in transition aid last year.

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