Mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration contracted with several vendors to perform work for the Department of Public Works (DPW) without seeking the approval of the City Council.
Council members had to ratify three contracts:
- $20,644 contract with IEH Auto Parts, doing business as Auto Plus Auto Parts, for vehicle parts
- $31,690 contract with Paterson-based Star Carpet for new flooring at the Community Development Department
- And $21,573 contract with Totowa-based Groff Tractor Mid Atlantic to repair payloader trucks.
Council members focused on the flooring contract during their workshop meeting on March 16.
“Explain to us how this happened. How did we not follow proper procedure?” asked councilman Alex Mendez, chairman of public works committee.
“I don’t know who told the actual company to start work before it was given the PO [purchase order]. It wasn’t Department of Public Works,” said public works William “Billy” Rodriguez.
Rodriguez appeared to place the blame on mayor Sayegh’s City Hall team.
“Your assistant BA just went ahead without getting the proper permission,” said councilwoman Maritza Davila to Sayegh’s business administrator.
Rodriguez mentioned assistant business administrator Lydia Rosario.
Business administrator Kathleen Long said there was a “confusion” with the director of the Community Development Department.
Long said Rosario was not involved in the situation.
“This is a conversation we have been having for the last two years. This is a confirming order,” said council president Flavio Rivera. “You don’t call a vendor without a purchase order to do anything. The problem here is bigger than what you guys may think it is.”
Rivera suggested the problem is with Long and her team. He pointed out the city has experienced employees at the Community Development Department. “They have been here for a long time. This is not new. The procurement laws have been the same since I’ve been in government,” he said.
Confirming orders, when used in non-emergency situations, violate state procurement laws.
Contracts over a certain amount have to be approved by the City Council.
Rodriguez explained IEH Auto Parts changed its name which led to the confirming order. “We didn’t know who to pay,” he said.
“This shouldn’t happen anywhere in the city,” said Rivera.
The three contracts were ratified on March 23.
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