Report: AshBritt Overcharged for Sandy Cleanup [AUDIO]
The report says there's no definitive proof that the overcharges were intentional, but nine Jersey shore towns will be getting their money back.
"What we found was a series of erroneous and miscalculated hauling charges amounting to about $300,000 in total," said State Comptroller Matt Boxer. "But we did not find any kind of persuasive evidence of intentional overbilling. These were just mistakes that were made."
AshBritt, Inc. is the company responsible for disposing of the debris. Three debris-removal monitors (Arcadis U.S., Inc., the Louis Berger Group, Inc. and Witt O'Brien's, LLC) are responsible for calculating the transport mileage supporting each invoice and recommending whether payment should be made by the municipality. Boxer says the overbilling blame lies with the monitors.
"At the end of the day this is the responsibility of the monitoring firms that were hired to oversee this process," explained Boxer. "Their whole job is to make sure that the amount of the bill is correct and they dropped the ball here."
The investigation finds several factors contributed to questionable charges, including vague standards for calculating debris transport mileage and other non-specific language in the debris removal contract, as well as logistical factors unique to Ocean County.
"This more than $300,000 in overcharges is going to be paid back to the towns in question and that's the bottom line for us; the taxpayers are going to get their money back," said Boxer. "We're talking about the rebuilding of New Jersey and the rebuilding of people's lives and their homes. Every dollar matters here."
The investigation was launched by Boxer and his team after receiving a referral from the Governor's Office of Recovery and Rebuilding and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.