The Republican majority on the Point Pleasant Borough Council voted Tuesday night to replace CME Associates as the borough engineer with Remington, Vernick and Vena, seven months after CME's contract with the borough had expired.
The Borough's new contract with Remington will expire in December 31, 2014, said Borough Administrator David Maffei on Wednesday.
Remington's hourly rates range from $52 to $125, and CME's hourly rates range from $58 to $140, depending on which staff member is doing the work (please see attached PDF for rates charged by Remington and CME, as provided by the Borough Administrator's office on Wednesday).
The vote for a new engineer was criticized by Councilman Christopher Goss, a Democrat, who questioned making the change in July.
"I'm really not in favor of changing the borough engineer with less than half a year remaining," Goss said. "I don't know of any practical reason for the change. This just seems to be about favoritism."
Goss and fellow Democrat Christopher Leitner voted against the resolution to hire Remington, while Republicans John Wisniewski, Antoinette DePaola and Robert Sabosik voted yes.
also voted in favor of the appointment, after abstaining on almost every other resolution presented to the council.
Professional appointments are usually handled at the borough's yearly reorganization meeting in January. This year, the Republican majority rejected most of the selections of Mayor William Schroeder, a Democrat, opting instead to place their own choices in most of those positions, a move that was completed in early February.
The borough engineer was left off the list of appointments in February, however. DePaola said Wednesday morning that position was put off because there were issues with the length of the contract that had to be addressed.
It wasn't clear whether CME was under contract for one year or three years, she said. So the council had Borough Attorney Jerry Dasti review the hiring resolution and the contract. Dasti determined it was a one-year contract, she said, allowing them to proceed with soliciting bids.
CME had been appointed at the beginning of 2011, when the Democratic majority on the council removed a number of the professionals. Among those professionals was Remington, which had been the borough engineer for several years at that point.
At a council meeting on Dec. 21, 2010, the Republicans on the council insisted that three-year contracts with the engineer were the norm and voted to remove a clause from Remington's contract that would have allowed it to be terminated at any time.
That vote, opposed by Councilmen Christopher Leitner and John McHugh (who has since left council), was taken after a bidding process had already been closed. That vote was repealed at the 2011 reorganization meeting, and CME was hired.
DePaola said Wednesday morning the council solicited requests for proposal in the spring and five firms -- including CME and Remington -- responded.
Among them were Kee Engineering Enterprises from Matawan, which DePaola said was the highest bidder; Birdsall Engineering, which is currently the subject of a state investigation, and T&M Associates of Middletown.
CME, T&M and Remington were all very close in cost, DePaola said, but Remington's rates were 7 to 11 percent cheaper than CME and their past history with the borough made them more desirable than T&M.
"CME did a fabulous job," DePaola said. "But when we had to go out to RFP, they did not come back with the lowest bid. We felt it was important that we save money."
CME's rates were $50 per hour to $300 per hour, depending on the type of work, Leitner said after the 2011 reorganization.
During the meeting, Leitner questioned whether hiring Remington will really save the borough money.
"There’s rates and there’s the final bill," he said. And he reiterated his contention from the February meeting that making professional appointments was up to the mayor, not the council.
CME will be allowed to finish out any projects that were begun while it was under contract to the borough, she said.