Amherst Supervisor Satish B. Mohan clashed Monday with several Town Board members who complained he is causing Amherst to fall behind in paying vendors for road salt and other necessities.
Council Members William L. Kindel and Daniel J. Ward led the 20-minute questioning that included several sharp exchanges. They said Mohan's attempts to personally inspect the payments were delaying checks to vendors, some of whom are threatening to cut off sales of such necessities as road salt, food for the Meals on Wheels program and solid waste disposal.
Mohan explained several times that he had paid all the vendors' bills and the only payments he was withholding concerned a couple of town departments that had overspent their budget lines by as much as $400,000.
"These checks have never been delayed," Mohan said. "These are just unfounded allegations."
But Ward and Kindel said their complaints were about delays being caused because Mohan was personally checking vendors' bills and town spending, most of which took place late last year.
"What we're going through here is a change of administration, and all the evils of the past come tumbling out," Ward said, referring to the overdue bills.
He added: "We have a right to ask you . . . to require you, that you sign [vendor's checks] by facsimile. We have to get this straightened out one way or another."
Mohan attempted to cut off Ward, saying: "I think we can stop here. This is misinformation."
But Ward continued, saying: "We
can't sit here every week like a little witch hunt and run an inquisition."
Kindel, who asked for the discussion, noted that the town might incur late charges for electricity and phone service. He asked for reports from town departments regarding the impact of any of the late payments.
Council Member William A. O'Loughlin read from one report from the Senior Citizens Center that Meals on Wheels vendors had not been paid for several weeks. But Mohan refused to accept the complaint.
Mohan also said he was being asked to sign off on large checks with little or no accounting for how the money was spent.
"How can anybody in the world pay without this minimal accounting?" he said.