Mayor Bloomberg’s days in office maybe winding down, but he isn’t leaving without butting heads with a few people. One particular person in general is City Controller John Liu, who is clashing with Michael Bloomberg over $50 million in which the city states that Verizon reportedly owes to taxpayers for poor service with the 911 emergency system. As part of this repayment, which ultimately stems from compensation Verizon was expected to make after it failed to deliver a new 911 call processing program called Vesta. After much delay, it finally made its launch in December 2011, but unfortunately the city has not seen a dime from what was originally owed. Liu also disagreed of the city’s $50 million, stating that Verizon actually owes taxpayers somewhere up to approximately $59 million—and $63 mil with interest. Just this past May, Liu approved of a Verizon three-month extension deal for Vesta’s maintenance contract, which was due to end on June 30th.
But in a letter sent Sept. 19 to City Hall, Liu warned he won’t extend it again unless a settlement on the $63 million is reached.
A testy City Hall blamed the lack of reparations on the Controller.
“(He) is well aware that settlement terms with Verizon were reached many months ago and that delay by his office is the reason that the city has not been compensated — not Verizon or anyone else,” spokesman Kamran Mumtaz said.
Mumtaz said the city ceased payments to Verizon for the delivery of the Vesta software, which was plagued with problems from the get-go.
“It’s handled 20 million calls with 100% availability since its launch,” he said.
But Controller Liu said the settlement terms offered by Verizon for its faulty delivery of Vesta were unacceptable.
“Their terms were contingent on us giving them a long contract renewal, for several years, and we don’t settle in exchange for contracts. Our answer was absolutely not,” he said.
Liu said he approved the three-month extension in May — but is now out of patience.
“We didn’t want to interrupt any operations, especially since it’s the emergency call system. But it’s not disputed by anyone that Verizon owes the taxpayers. Where is that money?” he said.
Vesta is not the only program with poor performance in Mayor Bloomberg’s planned upgrade of the city’s antiquated 911 system.