Sandy Removal Contracts Under Scrutiny in Three Jersey Shore Towns
Super storm Sandy debris removal costs in Belmar, Beach Haven and Little Egg Harbor are being investigated by federal authorities. According to NJ.COM, the audits are to determine whether money spent in New Jersey justifies millions in aid from Washington. The probe will be one of the first tests of Governor Chris Christie’s decision to award Florida-based AshBritt a no-bid contract for storm debris removal.
AshBritt was awarded the contract even though the Federal Emergency Management Agency warned the state could jeopardize federal relief if officials later determined the work could have been done cheaper through a bidding process.
Christie spokesman, Michael Drewniak, declined to comment on the audits. The Star-Ledgar learned of the audits through the state’s Open Public Records Act and through interviews with local officials.
Belmar Business Administrator Colleen Connolly believes the borough was targeted because it was one of the first towns to use AshBritt. Beach Haven Municipal Manager Richard Crane mirrors that sentiment, believing his borough also is being audited because it was one of the first to be awarded money for debris removal. In Little Egg Harbor, Business Administrator Garrett Loesch says the town hired a local contractor after an expedited bidding process allowed in emergency situations and has been given no indication that there are problems.
The audits are expected to take weeks, possibly even months, to complete.