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Angry Petersburg residents question mayor, attorney on water meter investigation

Posted at 10:45 PM, Apr 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-14 23:19:33-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Thursday night Petersburg Mayor Howard Meyers faced a crowd full of angry Petersburg residents during a community water meter forum.

The event was held by Meyers to reveal the findings of a study into the city's water bill issues and take questions from concerned residents.

Myers message was he and city council were not to blame for the city's water bill problems.

Myers said former City Attorney Brian Telfair hired private attorney Paul Goldman to investigate the water bill issues for the city and on Thursday night Goldman revealed his findings.

“I was very disturbed by what he found,” said Meyers.

Angry Petersburg resident

Angry Petersburg resident

Among the finding, Goldman raised questions about why he says the city's water meter contract with Johnson Controls was signed when it was $1 million over-bid? He said Johnson Controls won the bid for $3.9 million, but the signed contract says $4.9 million.

Also, why a certificate of completion was signed when tests were done showing the system didn't work?

But many of the Petersburg residents at the meeting still wanted to know why Goldman was hired in the first place when city council said they never approved it.

Mayor Howard Myers

Mayor Howard Myers

The atmosphere of the forum had the feel of a courtroom at times, but it wasn't a witness being cross-examined, instead it felt like the taxpayers were cross examining the attorney Paul Goldman.

“Answer the question, do you work for the city or the mayor?” a woman in the world yelled out to Goldman.

“I would say I was hired by the city attorney to represent the mayor,” he said.

“So we have that clear. You represent the mayor,” said another resident yelled out.

Attorney Paul Goldman

Attorney Paul Goldman

Several taxpayers said they don't believe they should have to pay for Goldman’s investigation.

“They are not here for the city, they are here for the mayor and the city benefited from his investigation,” said Petersburg business owner Prince Duke. “I think the mayor is liable for his court fees.”

Mayor Myers said Goldman is helping the city see if it can bring legal action against Johnson Controls.

But many citizens said they just want help with their water bills.

“Ain't nobody said they're going to give us a deduction or help us with our water bills,” said resident Mel Branch.

Interim City Manager Dironna Belton put a stop to Goldman's investigation last month, but the mayor wants the city to let him finish what he started.