Washington City Council rejected payment of a months-old bill to a tech company represented by Councilman Matt Staniszewski for website work it performed for the city’s transit authority
Council Thursday night voted 3-1 to deny the payment of $3,257 to nTouch for building a web platform for Washington City Transit that allows riders to track route delays or other system problems.
The original $2,100 bill came in last April, but was tabled each meeting while city officials asked for company representatives to come forward to discuss the work. Late fees increased the cost while city officials delayed a decision on the payment.
Councilman Joe Manning questioned the work done by nTouch because of Staniszewski’s ties to the company. Staniszewski has abstained from voting on past payments involving the company.
“This goes beyond the look of impropriety,” Manning said. “This stinks to high heaven.”
Manning said he was unaware of Staniszewski’s work with nTouch until recently and questioned why they weren’t made aware of that situation before hiring the company to perform about $20,000 in work over the past few years.
“No member of council should be profiting from the bids that go out of this building.”
Staniszewski was not at Thursday night’s voting meeting because he was attending a class to prepare for entrance exams for a masters in business administration degree, according to the agenda. Some audience members questioned whether Staniszewski, who started a job as New Castle’s economic development director last month, was instead at that city’s regular meeting that occurred at the same time Thursday night. However, a New Castle official confirmed Staniszewski did not attend their meeting.
In an email statement Staniszewski sent an hour after the end of the meeting, he denied any wrong-doing with the company’s bidding process and questioned Manning’s motives.
“Mr. Manning’s accusations are a cowardly attempt to defame my name in an election year that he and I are both running in,” Staniszewski said.
Both are running for re-election on the Nov. 5 ballot.
Washington City Councilman Ken Westcott, the only member who voted to pay the nTouch bill, thought it was unfair for Manning to rip a fellow member while he was absent.
“I think it was wrong Matt didn’t get to defend himself,” Westcott said. “I think he got ambushed.”
Westcott added that the city’s transit agency praised the work done by the company and does not think council should delay paying its bills.
“If someone performs services, we should pay the bills,” Westcott said.