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'Erroneous and Miscalculated' Charges in Sandy Cleanup, Investigation Finds

Point Pleasant Beach was overcharged.

Written by Daniel Nee

The out-of-state contractor that handled Ocean County's debris cleanup after Superstorm Sandy overcharged taxpayers more than $300,000 for its services, a state investigation released Tuesday revealed.

The Office of the State Comptroller found a series of "erroneous and miscalculated hauling charges" filed by AshBritt Inc., but did not find "persuasive evidence of intentional overbilling."

The Florida-based disaster management company billed towns a total of $328,942.15 in "overcharged and other questionable billings" for its cleanup effort, the investigation found.

AshBritt was the debris hauler responsible for disposing of the debris, while three debris-removal monitors – Arcadis U.S., Inc., the Louis Berger Group, Inc. and Witt O’Brien’s, LLC – were responsible for calculating the transport mileage supporting each invoice and recommending whether payment should be made by the municipality, the report said.

The overcharges represented approximately six percent of the total debris hauling charges that the comptroller's office reviewed as part of its investigation.

The vendors have agreed to "adjust all of those overcharges identified by OSC and credit the towns that were overbilled," a statement from the comptroller's office said.

The report did not detail all of the overcharges by town, but did include several examples, including overcharges of $129,463.98 to Brick and $34,196.48 to Bay Head due to erroneous mileage reimbursements.

In addition to Bay Head and Brick, the towns that were overcharged include Little Silver, Mantoloking, Point Pleasant Beach and Berkeley Township.

AshBritt handled debris management for nine municipalities in Ocean County alone.

The investigation found several factors contributed to questionable charges, including the absence of specific standards for calculating debris transport mileage and what was termed by the agency to be "vague language" in the debris removal contract, as well as logistical factors unique to Ocean County.

The factors included whether mileage should have been charged by haulers once inside the Ocean County landfill in Manchester Township, whether it was reasonable to round-up debris transport mileage calculations, and whether the debris monitors utilized appropriate mileage calculation methods.

“In the effort to rebuild New Jersey, every dollar matters,” State Comptroller Matthew Boxer said. “We are pleased that as a result of this investigation, towns recovering from Sandy will recoup debris hauling fees that should not have been paid.”

The entire report is available for download online.

Danny September 10, 2013 at 02:41 PM
Only six percent. Chrisite will say that is nothing and defend his hiring of a friends company without going to bid. And he has never addressed the issue of why he did not have a contract in place before the storm as any compentent Governor would have done. But hey, most of the media and the seniors love him, so that is all that matters.
grmahigold September 10, 2013 at 03:19 PM
we had 3 companies being paid to watch over the cleanup charges and there still were mistakes????? i hope we are clawing back $$$$ from the 3 llc's that were supposed to be on top of this. What were they doing????
Beach_N8iv September 10, 2013 at 03:29 PM
So Fatso's hand picked crony turned out to be a crook. I'm shocked, SHOCKED I SAY! How could something like that happen with a no-bid contract?
Honesty instead of Corruption September 10, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Gilmore and Company strike again. Audit all the bills. AshBritt is spreading around enough of the wealth to republican consultants, lawyers, and PR firms to shut this story down quickly.
John Wayne September 10, 2013 at 05:33 PM
Corruption!!!!!! The top down like everywhere or everything that is going on in the world. None of them are innocent. State, Counties, Towns, Schools. They don't call it Politics and business as usual for nothing.

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