Committee OKs $30K for pro services

FONDA – The Finance Committee of the Montgomery County Legislature passed a resolution Tuesday authorizing the transfer of $30,000 toward the county’s professional services account.

County Executive Matt Ossenfort requested the resolution so the county will be prepared in case they need to hire an attorney or any other type of professional service for the county.

“Should we ever hire outside counsel or any sort of professional services then we’d need money in that account, which was previously at $0,” Ossenfort said.

He said the money will not be used to create any new positions. It will only be used to hire professional services for the county.

Ossenfort did not confirm whether the county was planning on using the money to hire an attorney, but he did say recent events sparked the need for preparation.

“In light of some recent issues we’ve faced, I wanted to be prepared,” he said. “We’re looking at a potential lawsuit coming down the road and it’s just important to be prepared, and should we need to use that [money], we have the funding there.”

The potential lawsuit Ossenfort was referring to involves Casper Wells, partial owner of Amsterdam’s Hays & Wormuth insurance agency. Hays & Wormuth, an independent insurance agency that is run through Travelers Insurance, was the county’s insurance agency from 2008 until the end of 2013. The county had a $550,000 annual commercial liability package with the agency for that time.

In December of last year, the Board of Supervisors amended a 2012 resolution in preparation for the oncoming dissolution of Hays & Wormuth. The original resolution read: “It is the desire of the county to maintain property, general liability and flood insurance with Hays & Wormuth Inc. through Travelers.” The supervisors amended the resolution by replacing the words “Hays & Wormuth” with “John Mancini” – their insurance agent.

Mancini, the other partial owner of Hays & Wormuth, started a new insurance agency recently called Beacon Insurance Agency Group. In December, he told the Board of Supervisors that he’s always been the county’s insurance agent while they were doing business with Hays & Wormuth. He said the county did not have a contract with Hays & Wormuth; they had a contract with Travelers through Mancini and Hays & Wormuth. County attorney Douglas Landon confirmed that Mancini was correct and the Board decided they wouldn’t face any legal issues.

However, on Feb. 5, Wells filed a notice of claim for his own breach of contract lawsuit demanding $500,000. He claims the county had a contract with Hays & Wormuth until 2016 and since the insurance agency hasn’t dissolved yet, the contract is still valid.

Ossenfort, who received the paperwork from Wells, does not agree.

“At this point I don’t see any basis for his claim,” he said.

Wells could not be reached for comment at press time.