The February blizzard that left the city’s streets impassable and resulted in the hiring of outside contractors to clear the roads cost the city $165,012.
Days following the snowstorm that left well over a foot of snow on the ground, the city declared an emergency and hired four outside firms to help plow the streets, according to city documents.
E. Robinson and Sons, a city based company, was contracted for $11,800; R.M. Tuit Paving and Trucking, a Ringwood firm, was hired for $43,000; Avatar Limited, a Nutley based company, charged $49,450; and Global Development Contractors, a Belleville company, is set to receive $60,762 for services rendered to the city during the snow emergency.
The administration presented a resolution to the city with a listing of quotes from the various companies that were hired during the emergency without invoices or any supporting documents. “The documentation I have is limited,” said William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman, of the scant documentation provided by the administration.
McKoy told the administration to provide detailed documentations in the future including the work that was done and invoice. McKoy said the lack of invoices hinders the council members’ ability to ensure the invoices match the requested appropriation amounts.
Harry Cevallos, the city’s purchasing agent who filled-in for the business administrator, said the invoices were available at the committee meeting. Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman, said she didn’t see any invoices during the committee meeting.
Cevallos said during the emergency quotes were obtained by Christopher Coke, the city’s public works department director, rather than through the purchasing agent.
“When it comes time to pay, invoices should be sent with the paperwork,” said Cotton.
Speaking about a contractor that was sitting in the audience during the entire duration of the meeting, Cotton said companies should not have to wait months prior to being paid for the services that they rendered during the city’s time of need.
“It’s not fair that these people have to wait two or three months to get paid,” said Cotton.
Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, was the only vote against the resolution. “If we’re looking to payout any types of money it should go through the finance committee. I recognize this is a DPW function, but it’s still dollars and cents,” said Morris.
The dearth of attached documents to the resolution bothered Morris. He alluded to the election campaign when Jose “Joey” Torres continuously said the council approved his $74,000 severance check – council members who voted to approve the payment in 2010 have maintained that the offline check was hidden away in other expenses.
“We’ve been accused of doing somethings lately that were beyond our scope of responsibility and knowledge, but by the virtue that we approved it, now all of the sudden we’re assumed to be complicit in the action,” said Morris. “And I’m not willing to go down that slippery slope again, so my vote is no.”