"I got so desperate I called News 12," Villanella told the Reporter on Wednesday. "I do not have the final check in my hand, but it has been acknowledged like never before."
A few days after the report aired on Feb. 22, he received a check for around $1,000 from the town, he said.
"The assistant town attorney, the mayor, and the town clerk assured me that I will have the balance [for $3,974] on March 30, because they approve bills on March 22," Villanella reported. He added that the town's normal policy is to mail a check, but that he was told by the city clerk that someone will call him on the 30th, after which he will be allowed to pick up the balance from West New York Town Hall.
Villanella claims the town called him in December to place another order, and he told them he would not do any more work until he got paid for his previous work.
"It takes about three months for a municipality to pay out to vendors," West New York Mayor Felix Roque said about the matter on Wednesday. "I am extremely happy [Villanella] has decided not to do business with us again. It's about protecting the taxpayers' money."
In January, after submitting seven invoices, Villanella says he went to Town Hall personally and discovered that the outstanding bills had never been entered into the system.
"Everyone was courteous and tried to figure out what had gone wrong, but after that, I got frustrated and handed the bills over to collection," he said.
"Every merchant needs to be paid for services rendered," Roque said. "But the expenses were on one extreme of the bell curve. We're reviewing the invoices to be sure it's comparable to what other people are charging in the vicinity."
"The whole thing took on a whole new life after the News 12 segment aired," Villanella said. "It's my opinion that it will be resolved, but it's pretty sad that I had to go to that extreme." -- Gennarose Pope
West New York News 12 Mayor Felix Roque CD Graphics