Businesses await paychecks from Amherst

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — As many as 30 vendors who do work for the Town of Amherst are still waiting to receive payment for the services they provided, and some have been waiting almost a year.

"We can't have businesses sitting out there for months or a year waiting for payment for services they've given the town. These are small businesses that rely on timely payment for their services," said Mark Manna, a member of the Amherst Town Council.

Comptroller Darlene Carroll says she had been waiting because some department heads haven't followed proper procedures.

"If you purchase more than $20,000 in commodities or $35,000 in public works in a 12-month period of time you are required to do a formal bid," Carroll explained.

She also says she found problems with contracts and insurance, so she refused to send out checks to those businesses.

"I do feel compassion for the small businesses who probably were not aware that the departments were not following the right procedures, but I had many conversations and discussions with the departments attempting to have them come into compliance," said Carroll.

Manna responded, "It's interesting that the town has never been cited or warned by the state comptroller's office that we are in possible violation."

Supervisor Dr. Barry Weinstein says he didn't even know there was a problem until department heads came to him. Around 40 payments have since been approved by the council.

"Gleason's Nursery, it's a $52,000 bill. It was approved a few meetings ago," said Dr. Weinstein.

As many as 30 are still waiting to get paid. When it's all said and done, around $300,000 will be paid out to businesses who've been waiting.

"We need to pay the people who gave us the service and then the town board delves into what process wasn't completed. Don't punish the small business owner because of our mistake," said Manna.

Dr. Weinstein says they have a new system for approving new purchases that will go into effect Tuesday.

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