Royal Palm Beach seeks way to get its payments to inspector general's office

ROYAL PALM BEACH —

The Palm Beach County Office of Inspector General could get some of the money it needs to continue probing potential municipal mismanagement — thanks to Royal Palm Beach.

The village council Thursday voted to postpone consideration of the matter until Aug. 16 to get a clearer handle on how much it would owe the office for the 2013 fiscal year.

Discussions in late June made it clear that most of the council favored making sure Inspector General Sheryl Steckler gets the money she is due from the village.

Steckler's team has been hampered by a lawsuit that more than a dozen municipalities filed late last year challenging a requirement that cities and towns must help pay for the office.

The county Clerk & Comptroller's Office stopped billing Palm Beach County municipalities in January, Steckler said.

It's also holding fees that municipalities have paid for the latter half of 2011.

Royal Palm Beach's total: $9,097.

"I don't want my checks sitting on the clerk's desk," Vice Mayor Fred Pinto said. "I want the IG to be able to do the job they were enacted to do. I want them to get the funds that we agreed we would send up to pay."

Royal Palm Beach's total for the 2012 fiscal year is $17,764.

"Moving the money forward is the right thing to do," Councilman Jeff Hmara said. "Looks like this might break that logjam."

The county attorney's office is working on getting interlocal agreements with Royal Palm Beach and other municipalities so that the funds they owe could go directly to Steckler's office. Further details weren't available Friday.

Steckler said the money she gets from interlocal agreements won't "come close" to what she needs to run her office. "It's a Band Aid."

It's unclear when the county and municipalities who have sued the office will put the lawsuit to rest. For just that reason, the inspector general's office has filed a motion to intervene in the case, Steckler said.

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