Rotterdam will need to reimburse Jim Bradshaw for the materials he used to help volunteers build a veteran’s memorial at Town Hall in 2011, a judge ruled Friday.
Judge Guido Loyola ordered the town to pay Bradshaw $4,980 — the invoice for the supplies plus interest and court costs — following a bench trial in Schenectady City Court last month. In his one-page ruling, the judge indicated there was nothing inappropriate about former town Supervisor Frank Del Gallo donating his $13,000 annual salary to the monument project and then using those funds to pay Bradshaw, the only one of roughly a dozen contractors not reimbursed for supplies.
“Ironically, defendant-current supervisor [Harry Buffardi] provided [Bradshaw] with the prevailing argument since an inquiry made of the town comptroller as well as the state Comptroller’s Office found no such irregularities or other prohibition,” Loyola wrote in the ruling dated Friday.
Tom Delorenzo, Bradshaw’s lawyer, was pleased his client will finally be paid for expenses he incurred more than two years ago. He blamed the town for wasting money and resources on a bill that should have been paid after the state Comptroller’s Office found no impropriety.
“This should have been settled, instead of the town incurring more expenses,” he said Monday.
Buffardi said he will consult the Town Board to determine whether to appeal Loyola’s decision. He said the money Bradshaw claims he is owed was set aside in case of a ruling in his favor, but believes the town still has a legitimate case to withhold the payment.
“We were told by a number of different people that it was not right to pay for it this way,” he said.
Bradshaw, a contractor, submitted to the town an itemized invoice for $4,330 in July 2011, listing the supplies he used to help volunteers build the monument. But because of a clerical error and turnover in the town comptroller’s office, the bill never was paid.
Months went by without a word about the invoice. Then in November, it surfaced on the desk of Del Gallo, who subsequently submitted it to the town comptroller to be paid. But before a check could be cut, the monument project and Del Gallo’s accounting of the money spent to build it came under fire by members of the Town Board. In December, they opted to table three pages of budget transfers to forestall paying Bradshaw Construction until Buffardi’s administration took office in January 2012.
Buffardi called on the state Comptroller’s Office to review the purchasing practices of the Del Gallo administration. The town’s contention is that the monument constituted a capital project, and therefore is subject to the competitive bidding process.
Board members also questioned whether Del Gallo could dedicate his $13,000 salary as supervisor to the cause without prior approval, while also criticizing the lack of accounting toward what was donated to the cause. Del Gallo claimed he could donate his salary in any way he saw fit and that the town’s comptroller didn’t raise any issues when he asked to purchase materials for the monument with the money last year.
Bradshaw decided to file a small claims proceeding against the town last year after his efforts to collect the bill through the Buffardi administration were unsuccessful. He also accused the town of stalling the small claims proceeding — an accusation town officials vehemently denied.
Bradshaw ran on an independent line with Del Gallo in 2011, when he made a bid for town justice. Delorenzo claims Democrats, who spurned Del Gallo in favor of endorsing Buffardi and won a majority on the board that year, were playing politics by not paying his client.
“I think it was somewhat political,” he said.