UNION CITY -- The city has sued a financial consultant, saying that errors in handling a sanitation rate hike cost the city nearly $140,000, according to court documents.

Willdan Financial Services and Union City have negotiated for months over the money, but city leaders filed the lawsuit Friday after talks stalled, said City Attorney Benjamin Reyes.

"Willdan has not met any of the demands that the city has presented to date," Reyes said.

Two other California communities have also accused the Anaheim company of costly errors.

A Willdan Financial Services representative could not be reached for comment for this story.

Union City hired the firm in 2012 to calculate rate increases for solid waste, recycling and storm water services and to give that information to the Alameda County assessor.

But the calculations that Willdan Financial Services submitted to the assessor didn't include the rate increases and the company "didn't have a reasonable explanation as to why they failed to do so," Reyes said.

Had the consultant's information been correct, the county assessor would have collected more money on the property owners' annual property tax bills, city leaders said.

Instead, the company's error resulted in "under-collected" fees, creating a deficit of at least $139,746, the city stated in court documents.


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Willdan Financial Services has acknowledged its mistake but has not repaid the city, suggesting instead that it bill property owners to recoup the loss, Reyes said.

Union City refused, however, because that would incorrectly imply that ratepayers or staffers were at fault, city leaders said.

"We were saddened when Willdan refused to take responsibility for their costly error," City Manager Larry Cheeves said in a written statement. "It would not be right to make the residents and businesses pay for the mistakes of a consultant."

The city of Glendale announced last month that it had sued the company, alleging that a wrong calculation in a water-rate study cost the city $9 million.

Leaders in McKinleyville, an unincorporated Humboldt County community, discovered last year that it lost $400,000 because of a mistake Willdan made in its 2011 water-rate analysis, according to the McKinleyville Press.

Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.