VINELAND — City Council on Tuesday appointed itself as a special committee to investigate actions related to the municipality’s business administrator.
Part of the investigation will involve whether William Lutz made bribery allegations against Landis Sewerage Authority Executive Director Dennis Palmer.
However, the panel’s probe — for which it gave itself subpoena power — is not limited to that one issue. The panel can look at other activities related to Lutz and his duties in the day-to-day running of city government.
Hammonton attorney Robert Pinizzotto will serve as the committee’s legal adviser.
“Upon completion of the investigation, the City Council may in its discretion, take any action it deems appropriate based upon the facts discovered during the investigation,” reads the resolution that establishes the committee and its powers.
City Council, whose president, Anthony Fanucci, will serve as the committee’s chairman, voted 4-0 to approve the resolution. Council took the action without comment.
Lutz sat in City Council’s main meeting room while the panel voted to investigate his actions. He made no comment about the action.
Palmer charges in a legal notice lodged several months ago against the city that bribery allegations are linked to the city’s proposed takeover of the LSA. The allegations were heard by City Councilwoman Angela Calakos, who relayed the information to City Solicitor Richard Tonetta, Palmer states in the legal notice.
Lutz has denied the charges and is suing the city, claiming he was defamed by charges regarding the bribery allegations. Lutz claims he no longer wants to serve as business administrator, but will not leave his post unless the city pays him $250,000, two years worth of continued benefits, and positive referrals for when he seeks a new job.
City Council earlier stopped its planned investigation of Lutz after some members said Mayor Ruben Bermudez blocked the money needed to pay Pinnizoto
On April 8, City Council approved an order authorized by Superior Court Judge Anne McDonnell that allowed both City Council and Bermudez to hire their own attorneys. The order allows City Council and Bermudez to each spend up to $10,000 for the legal services.
The attorneys would also be involved in a legal matter in which Bermudez is trying to quash City Council’s overturning of his firing of Tonetta.
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