Norwalk Corporation lawyer walks out of tax software deal talks ‘to avoid any appearance of impropriety’

NORWALK — While the city’s contract with a Waterbury-based software company has yet to be finalized, Norwalk’s company lawyer has apologized for drafting the contract and negotiating.

Additionally, Norwalk Corporation attorney Mario Coppola has apologized for any discussions or work with Quality Data Service because he has previously represented the company, city spokeswoman Michelle Woods Matthews said. .

“Mario Coppola is a part-time corporate attorney for the City of Norwalk and is a partner at Berchem Moses PC. Berchem Moses represents QDS,” said Woods Matthews. “In order to avoid any appearance of impropriety, Mario has withdrawn from all aspects of the procurement process and negotiations on behalf of either party.”

There is no ongoing litigation involving Quality Data Services, according to the state court website.

Coppola took on the role of Norwalk Company Attorney in 2013 and previously acted in the same role for the City of Trumbull from 2009 to 2013, according to Berchem Moses PC. He has also served as Westport’s assistant city attorney since 2006.

In addition, Coppola regularly provides legal representation and services to other Connecticut municipalities, including Easton, Madison, New Canaan, Trumbull, Weston and Wilton.

He specializes in municipal law, land use and zoning, property tax assessment and appeals, real estate transactions and general civil litigation, according to Berchem Moses.

The contract between the city and QDS was first approved at the Common Council’s Finance and Claims Committee meeting in mid-July and was approved by the Common Council later that month.

However, the position was recently questioned after an error in the contract amount was discovered and the cost was to be increased.

As of Monday, the city has yet to determine if a new contract is needed, Woods Matthews said. If a five-year contract is required, the contract would be sent back to committee to start the full legislative process again, she said.

“Quality Data Services was awarded this contract because it is the premier software service for tax assessment needs throughout Connecticut,” said Woods Matthews. “Their software is uniquely qualified to help local governments be more efficient. That’s why over 94% of municipalities in the state use their services.

After last month’s approval, the contract briefly appeared on the agenda of last week’s board meeting as a technical review. The agenda item of the contract and its subsequent deletion was confirmed by Woods Matthews.

“When this contract came to the mayor for his signature, it was noted that the total cost of the contract was greater than the amount approved by Common Council,” Woods Matthews previously said. “(Tax Assessor Bill) Ford then sent the full cost of the five-year contract to the Common Council for approval, calling it a ‘technical amendment,’ but the mayor noted that this change was too significant to be considered a” technical amendment ‘.amendment’ and requested that it be removed from the agenda.

Quality Data Service’s software would allow the tax assessor’s office to streamline property assessments and create a faster, simpler assessment process.

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