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Manlius Village Board approves $3,500 more in consultant fees

The Manlius Village Board last week approved 6-1 another 70 hours of work for consultant Karen Curulla to assist and train village Clerk Lisa DeVona.

The vote comes about a year after the board approved the first 70 hours, shortly after DeVona was hired, and after an additional 165 hours were used without board approval. To date, Curulla has been paid $11,750 for which the board has received criticism.

Trustee Marc Baum, the sole trustee who opposed the Aug. 10 motion, said he spoke out against the decision on the grounds that the board did not follow through on the motion recorded in the Aug. 25, 2009 minutes, where Curulla was approved to be hired, "as a part time employee with no retirement and health benefits at an hourly wage of $50 less the federal and FICA deductions for no more than 70 hours, to be used by Nov. 13, 2009."

Additionally, Baum said he dissented because the board and Mayor Mark-Paul Serafin allowed payments to continue without prior approval. Baum was not a trustee at the time Curulla was hired.

"In my opinion, the current village administration has, time and time again, doled out money inappropriately and without approval from the legislative branch," Baum said. "For example, bonuses paid to appointed public officials. These were paid weeks before the board took action on them. Then, we only took action because Trustee [Natalie] Miner and I pushed the issue."

At last week 's Aug. 10 meeting, Miner motioned to authorize the consultant fees at a rate of $50 per hour, not to exceed $3,500, up until the next meeting scheduled for Tuesday Sept. 14, when DeVona, by board request, will present future plans and possibly a tracking proposal so the board can be aware of hours utilized.

"The rationale is simply that you're in the middle of closing out one accounting year and you 're starting a new one and getting ready for the AUD (Annual Update Document) and preparing for the audit of last year 's books," Miner said. "So I don't anticipate we'll be [approving] 70 hours every month."

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