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Westfield Village Board members may sue over energy contract

WESTFIELD – Threats of lawsuits over a disputed energy contract were made by members of the Westfield Village Board Monday during a special budget hearing that attracted about 100 residents.

During the hearing, a spending plan under the tax cap of 1.5 percent was approved, but the audience that gathered in the meeting room of Eason Hall had other questions in mind.

Mayor Mike VandeVelde came under fire because of allegations that he entered into a contract with Ambit Energy for natural gas. The village currently has a contract with Energy Mark.

The mayor denied entering into the agreement, adding that Ambit does not sign contracts and would have saved the village money. He said the two accounts he transferred to Ambit were small seasonal accounts.

The mayor said, “I would not have earned a penny from the transfer,” ading that no family or friends would benefit, either.

Trustee Debra Puckhaber said she believes the mayor did not disclose that he has been a salesman for Ambit.

The mayor said he did not believe he had to disclose the information because it was not substantial.

Puckhaber also confirmed that she contacted the district attorney to talk about charges against the mayor.

The mayor also said he asked village Clerk Vince Luce to cancel the contracts. But it appears that Luce’s job is also on the line. The mayor revealed he will not reappoint Luce and one other employee in the village clerk’s office.

“I don’t believe I have the support of these employees but they will continue in their jobs,” VandeVelde said.

He went on to explain that Luce will retain his clerk’s post but he won’t reappoint him as village administrator. Mayoral appointments require board approval, he said, and they could continue to work until a majority of the trustees ratified the approval of new appointments.

“He can continue on a holdover basis,” the mayor said.

The reorganizational meeting for appointments is April 7.

Monday’s meeting also resulted in the acceptance of the resignation of Barry Underwood, who was chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners. He said he no longer wanted to be part of that board. Board members voted to discuss the mattter in executive session.