Consulting firm bills for funds on top of contract

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By JACQUELINE DURETT
Correspondent

SAYREVILLE — Councilwoman Mary Novak said she was upset that the borough agreed to give vendor V-COMM an additional payment on top of an existing contract.

Mayor Kennedy O’Brien had to break a tie at the Aug. 22 meeting to pay the consulting firm, V-COMM, an additional $8,000, which, according to the resolution, was for additional charges for the review process in regards to developing deliverables for the borough’s emergency radio purchase.

The borough hired V-COMM originally to develop specs and make a recommendation for a vendor for new emergency radios. However, there has been infighting among the council members regarding the radio purchase process, and the council ultimately did not select the vendor V-COMM recommended, which was Motorola. Instead, the council went with a Harris radio system through dealer TPS of West Berlin.

V-COMM’s bill for additional services originally came to $14,000, and according to Novak, the fee was negotiated down to $8,000. That was on top of the existing contract for $31,000. Council President Daniel Buchanan, Councilwoman Victoria Kilpatrick and Novak voted against the additional payment.

Novak told the council after the vote that she voted no because, according to the contract, the consulting firm was required to come before the council should they intend to bill for any additional work beyond what was agreed to.

“And instead, they did various things, and they sent a bill for $14,000,” she said.

She added that in meetings with V-COMM, representatives never mentioned the intent to bill above the original amount.

After the meeting, Novak said she felt the payment was a misappropriation of funds, and felt the work the borough was being billed for should have been captured under the original contract, or within the scope of a second contract for V-COMM for engineering services for $35,000.

“We just voted to violate our own resolution,” she said. “To me that’s just a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

Also at the Aug. 22 meeting, the council entered into two new contracts with V-COMM, one for verification and final acceptance services for the radio system for $43,000, and one for engineering for the system for $105,750.

In recent weeks, fire and emergency medical services personnel have discovered that V-COMM’s specs did not capture their radio needs, only the needs of the police department. Before the meeting, Kilpatrick said TPS, the dealer selected for the radio purchase, and Harris, the radio vendor selected, are working with the fire and EMS personnel to ensure the radios are also able to meet their needs.

Representatives from V-COMM could not be reached for comment by press time.