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

Several Jersey Shore towns to recoup $328K in overcharges

Debris waiting to be removed after Sandy from Bayview Park in Brick Township. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Debris waiting to be removed after Sandy from Bayview Park in Brick Township. (Photo: 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.”

To see the state press release, with a hyperlink to the complete report, click here.
Mac September 10, 2013 at 03:03 PM
The amount to be recovered should be $428K. Governor Christie said no one should profit unfairly or deceitfully from the victims of Hurricane Sandy. If that is truly the case, then shouldn't the Governor's right hand man give back the $100K he pocketed for doing no more than leading AshBritt to such vulnerable prey?
. September 10, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Another good reason to give Christie the boot come November. He is as dishonest as his brother (read up on Todd Christie if you don't know already). People need to stop being fooled by him!
proud September 10, 2013 at 03:43 PM
I'm beginning to wonder if something isn't fishy with Ashbritt?
Victor W Sloma September 10, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Gotta question, he froze the pay for the teachers, did Christie freeze his pay and the office bozo's that work for him? I have asked many times and I never get an answer!
John Wayne September 10, 2013 at 05:23 PM
Is anyone really surprise?
paulie September 10, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Christe did a wonderful job dealing with the massive damage caused by Sandy. Were there dishonest people out to line their own pockets? Certainly, but Christe was not one of them. Speaking of dishonest step back and imagine if that fool Corzine had been in office when this disaster hit where we would be.
suz September 11, 2013 at 08:24 AM
Paulie, I agree. If some other jerk, such as Corzine, were in office there would of been much more "missing" monies. Christie did a great job after the storm and he has got my vote once again. Oh, and Maruca...cheaper doesn't mean better. Oh, why do I bother...you dislike Christie. Oh wait, you dislike everyone, it seems.
proud September 11, 2013 at 08:48 AM
@Failed_ doesn't dislike Elvis or he wouldn't impersonate him.
joe g. September 11, 2013 at 10:16 AM
I worked for witt(obriens) for 9 months and that company was cleared of every charge against the monitoring firm by the Comptroller of N.J.
grace September 11, 2013 at 10:18 AM
where is chief wahoo and his comments i wonder if an i told you so would be in there?
Chief Wahoo September 11, 2013 at 10:29 AM
Do I really have to say I TOLD YOU SO.....
Chief Wahoo September 11, 2013 at 10:35 AM
speaking of Corzine , his right hand man, Maggie Moran was right there with one hand out and one arm around the Governor the week after the Storm in Belmar. What does Belmar have to do with it...Maggie sleeps with the Mayor , well she is his wife , even though they have different last names. Public takers like to do that, makes it harder to connect the dots. Back to Maggie and Christie. Why did they have such big smiles. Thought they hated each other ?????? Yes Chief Wahoo TOLD YOU SO (u can look it up)
proud September 11, 2013 at 11:20 AM
Chief, I defy you to explain how anyone get possibly get their arm AROUND the Governor.
Chief Wahoo September 11, 2013 at 11:28 AM
Dame Bridgid September 12, 2013 at 07:36 AM
Wow, I knew the morons would automatically turn this political. Give it a rest. There are unscrupulous people in every business that slip past the officials. Just be glad they were caught, & lay off that party based hatred of the Governor before your heads explode from high blood pressure.
suz September 12, 2013 at 08:05 AM
Oh boy....
www.zazzle.com/kodachrome68* September 15, 2013 at 12:35 PM


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