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News-Press.com - Fort Myers, Florida - Southwest Florida
May 3, 2010

Cape Coral's attorney to explore how to get records for utility audit

5:33 P.M. - Cape Coral's city attorney will try to determine the best and most cost effective way to get payroll records from MWH so auditor Michael Kessler can complete an audit of the utilities construction management contract.

The council voted 6-2, with Derrick Donnell and Marty McClain opposed, to try to pursue the records.

The cost of doing so could become a factor.

"I don't want to write an open blank check," Councilman Kevin McGrail said.

"We need to chase these records and get them, Mayor John Sullivan said.

The city could improve the trust residents in the city government if the records show no problems, Sullivan said. The city could be due a refund if problems are revealed, Sullivan added.

Kessler conducted an audit in 2004, but complained he could not get payroll data he needed from MWH to see if the city was overcharged. He also said his audit raised questions about the possibility of bid-rigging.

No bidrigging charges have been filed.

MWH brought in auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct another audit, which refuted Kessler's claims that the company had withheld information.

MWH has refused the city's request to turn over the records.

City Councilman Bill Deile recommended the city file a bill of discovery with the court to see if it is entitled to the information to determine if the city has a cause of action against MWH.

City Attorney Dolores Menendez said she is unfamiliar with a bill of discovery, but would research it.

The city charter gives the council the power to issue a subpoena if it is investigating affairs of the city. The council would have to show the court that it is doing that if it issues a subpoena and MWH fights it, Menendez said.

The city also might try to declare the information a public record to which it is entitled, Menendez said.

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