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Utility audit invoice submitted for work to date

By Staff | Jul 5, 2010

The firm the city of Cape Coral hopes will return to finish an audit stymied by a records dispute the first go-around has submitted its first invoice.
Michael Kessler is seeking $2,019 for work his firm has completed to date in conjunction with an audit of the contract between the city and MWH, the city’s general contractor on the utilities expansion project.
The invoice, dated June 19, lists work dated from 3/3/2010 – 5/19/2010.
Kessler and Bradley Hudson, a forensic accountant with Kessler International, were identified on the invoice for their “professional services.”
According to the invoice, Hudson worked 3.6 hours at $240 an hour; Kessler worked 4.2 hours at $275 an hour, and half an hour at no charge.
Items listed on the invoice include, but are not limited to, email exchanges, phone conversations, retrieving and reviewing documents.
City council previously authorized the forensic audit be restarted, but it’s still unclear whether Kessler can obtain the documents from MWH he said are crucial in this second go round at examining the relationship between Cape Coral and MWH for the portion of the expansion project conducted in 1999.
In late May, Kessler told the city auditor’s office that the city’s “poor payment history” was the reason he was seeking a retainer with some payment in advance.
City Auditor Dona Newman said the two sides are trying to hammer out the details of the contract.
Mayor John Sullivan said Monday that he feels the invoice is justified, because Kessler and his team have done the work listed on the bill.
Sullivan said an invoice item dated 5/3/2010, in which Kessler lists work requested specifically by the mayor, was a letter that would allow the city to subpoena documents and information from MWH.
Kessler is listed as having worked on that item, for 2.2 hours.
Sullivan also said the city attorney and auditor have been “side stepping” council instructions to find out if the subpoena is a viable option.
“They’re dragging their heels and they’re going to have to do something to make this happen,” he said.
Councilmember Marty McClain, who has long been opposed to restarting the audit, said Kessler should not present a bill unless his firm has uncovered information the city did not previously have.
Without a formal contract, McClain said, Kessler should not expect to be paid.
“I feel he’s owed nothing, until such time he produces something we don’t have … or he’s under contract,” McClain said.