Sandy Cost Scotch Plains Roughly $1 Million

At the Feb. 19 council meeting township manager Henry Underhill and Mayor Kevin Glover said the township is probably looking at an excess of $1 million spent on Sandy.


During the Manager’s Report at the Feb. 19 Scotch Plains Council Meeting, the ongoing cleanup from Sandy was discussed by Township Manager Henry Underhill, who stated that originally the township borrowed $800,000 but that they probably tacked on another $200,000.

According to Underhill, the township originally borrowed the $800,000 with money set aside for grinding, but are now probably near $1 million due to salaries from the police and fire department.

Also, Underhill stated that he hasn’t seen the numbers from the police and fire departments as of yet, but he said he was sure the township was probably in another $200,000.

“75 percent should be coming back to us,” Underhill stated.

The township has been working on the report to submit to FEMA and they have already finalized the police department aspect. Underhill stated they should have the fire department and department of public works information in by the end of the week.

The grinding at the former Terry Lou Zoo location is still ongoing and the township is going back and forth with plans, Underhill stated. They are planning to have official bid documents put out for the grinding.

“We will still try to be on schedule to get rid of it by the end of March,” Underhill said.

Originally, the amount of debris at the site was between 6,000-8,000 cubic yards when first calculated, Underhill stated. Now the Township is looking at 16,000 cubic yards, not including what was brought directly to disposal sites.

Underhill also said that township is working on the appropriate documents to send out to the public on the bulk waste pickup. He stated that pickup should still be on the normal schedule.

“If people are waiting and holding onto this stuff we should still be on schedule for when they will be able to put it out on the curb,” he said.

Information on bulk waste pickup will be posted on the township’s website.

For a full look at the post-Sandy report, view the township’s document here.

Check back with scotchplains.patch.com as more information becomes available.


ResidentSP February 22, 2013 at 03:38 AM
While I am sure there is overtime for the Police department our Fire department is volunteer. We get requests for donations each year. Why would there be any costs assoicated with the FD?
Bo Vastine February 22, 2013 at 02:13 PM
In addition to the issues related to "Superstorm Sandy", the Council also had discussions related to the appointment of Health Insurance Broker. The sequences of events related to that appointment are worth noting because they repeat a pattern which was seen with the appointment of our Township Engineer provider. The truth is that Conner Strong & Buckelew (CSB), our previous/existing insurance broker...provided a proposal which capped their fees at $50,000, (the only firm which did so in their first proposal). After the interview process, the new firm...Doyle Alliance Group, Inc. (DAG) was going to be awarded the contract despite the fact that they only submitted a proposal that reflected “an annual retainer on a commission basis”…at the rate of “standard carrier commissions or your current commission schedule”. In addition, the proposal initially submitted referenced “our standard hourly billable rates…at $250,…$150…and $90” depending on the seniority of the person doing the work. When the resolution was put up for vote, Mr. Underhill assigned a dollar amount of $90,000, which was the amount paid last year, as a reflection of their proposal as stated above.
Bo Vastine February 22, 2013 at 02:13 PM
When I questioned this, Mr. Underhill said that he would look into it and get back to the council. When the answer came back, all of the sudden DAG...the firm that the Mayor had wanted to appoint in the previous meeting, had put a cap on their proposal in the amount of $48,000. It would appear that the second bite at the apple was beneficial to their winning proposal...or the voting majority of the council never read the details of CSB's original proposal to know that they had proposed a cap from the start. Either way...the process/outcome seemed to be predetermined as I and Councilman Marcus assert. While this does result in a savings to the Township...we would have realized a comparable savings had we stayed with the existing broker, Conner Strong & Buckelew. In addition, Conner Strong & Buckelew had put the cap into their original proposal...and was never given the opportunity to "negotiate" as was DAG. The larger point is that twice during this process, proposed vendors were given the chance to re-submit proposals when others were not...and, it so happens that those who were able to re-submit were the firms that The Mayor wanted hired. Although this process is not illegal...it is extremely unfair and a deterrence to other providers who might want to compete for the Township's business.
Holden MaGroin February 22, 2013 at 02:28 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and I agree with Bo. I don't think it's good business practice to have service providers bidding against each other to lower their fees and result in savings to taxpayers. I do have a serious question for our Council. How come it cost the town $90k last year but the same provider was only going to charge us $50k this year? In a previous article it was said that the town manager attached the $90k amount to the new provider's bid because that is what we paid the old one last year. Are we getting half the service this year? Also, since we should guard against cronyism when a new regime comes in, can anyone on the council tell us who represents the new provider they hired? And as long as I'm asking, can we also get an answer on who represented the old provider that was replaced?
Bo Vastine February 22, 2013 at 02:47 PM
HM, I am all for "fair" competition...if everyone that submitted a proposal was given the same opportunities to amend their proposals...we wouldn't have a problem in this case. That's not what happened. A single firm was allowed to resubmit and...oh by the way...it happened to be the firm that the Mayor wanted to select. This was also done with the selection of our engineering firm. As it relates to the disparity in what we paid last year versus this year. The standard practice is to pay a percentage of the policy. Given that our previous broker did the work at the end of last year...while still under contract...they capped their fee for this year. In essence, they recognized the potential amount of work would be less and they also understood the economic situation that the Township faces. To a larger point, why didn't anyone else see the proposed cap, in the original proposal...during the "interview/selection" process? Were they really interested? Or, were they simply going through the motions...? If you believe that this practice is in the best long-term interest of our Township...I will have to respectfully disagree.
Holden MaGroin February 22, 2013 at 07:06 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for Bo. I think we are in agreement on making sure the process is fair. I would have liked to see each continue to bid against each other in a reverse-like aution until one of them cried "uncle", we can't go any lower. With that being said, who put the $90,000 amount on the new provider's bid? In an older article on the Patch it was reported that the town manager attached that figure. Is that incorrect? If it is incorrect and the new provider did originally say $90,000, then the old provider should be given more opportunities to lower their bid as mentioned above. If not, what is the real comparison? Also, with the fear of only insiders getting hired, and as you point out this is the firm that the mayor wanted, can you provide the representative or affiliation of the new providers? Are they connected to the mayor or the democrats? We voters should know that. And also in the name of fairness, can you provide that same representation and/or affiliations of the provider who is being replaced? Thanks
Bo Vastine February 22, 2013 at 07:37 PM
Mr. Underhill put the $90,000 on the resolution based on the fact that DAG said that they would do it for an hourly rate or whatever the others guys got paid. $90,000 was what we paid last year. In addition, DAG's original proposal did not place a cap on the amount to be paid. Conner Strong did place a cap on their original proposal stating they would not make more than $50,000 for the year. After DAG was allowed to revise their proposal...their new proposal had a cap of $48,000. All I am saying is that the process was not a fair process and the outcome seemed to be predetermined. Otherwise, why not go with the original proposal from Conner Strong (clearly it was the best proposal of all that were originally submitted) instead of having to give a second bite at the apple to only one firm. As far as what the motivation was...or who was involved...that seems irrelevant to me. Regardless of who was involved...the process was still tainted...and it still puts Scotch Plains in a less competitive position in the future. Who wants to compete for business when the rules change or skew in favor of one firm over another?
Holden MaGroin February 22, 2013 at 09:44 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for Bo. Thank you again for your quick reply. I don't think the horse is dead yet, so I have a couple of more questions. In a previous post above you said that the old provider did work at the end of the year so they were lowering their bid for this year. Does that mean they did 2 years of work last year and got paid double? Why would we need to pay anything this year? Can you tell us what they have been paid over the last few years? Has it been about $50k each year other than last? Are you suggesting from your post above that they bid half of last year because they know the town is struggling financially? Does that mean they were getting $48k of extra profit last year? I am happy that you and Mr Marcus are arguing for transparency in our government. You also keep saying that the new providers are all people the mayor wants. Why then is it irrelevant to you who is now involved as representatives of these companies or who the representatives of the old provider was? Your last paragraph in the above posts actually now makes me more intrigued as to who the new people are and who the old people were. Why can't you tell us?
Bo Vastine February 22, 2013 at 10:17 PM
HM, Some of these questions would be better directed to the Mayor. Perhaps he would like to explain why he chose the firms that he did. Conner Strong marketed our policy last year. I do not know for sure what motivated them to cap this year's proposal...I should have provided a better hypothesis above such as; "perhaps the fact that they did the work last year prompted them to cap their fees this year"...or, "knowing that most firms propose that they make what the previous firm made, they used a strategic fee cap to be more competitive". Either way they did provide for a cap in fees and our new firm did not in their initial proposal. I do not care who is involved with representing these companies because it is more about what value we get for the Township. If you have to bend the rules to get the firm you want...it isn't good for the Township. Without a level playing field you create an environment where no other firms want to put forward proposals because they know they won't win the business. I could not tell you what we paid cumulative over the past few years. The standard practice is that the insurance broker is paid a percentage of the policy...whatever that figure amounts to. You would have to request the historical information from the Township. With that said...I am sending the horse back to the barn. Have a great weekend!
Robin Lane February 23, 2013 at 04:58 AM
I'm with Holden on this. Councilman Vastine seems evasive with his lack of an answer to who represented this insurance broker in the past. I've been told that it was a member of a politically connected family. I would be curious to see if the Patch editor can inquire about this.
Robin Lane February 23, 2013 at 05:01 AM
I'm with Holden on this. Councilman Vastine seems too evasive in his lack of an answer as to who was involved with the past insurance broker. I've heard rumors and would be curious to see if the Patch editor could investigate this.
Olefin February 23, 2013 at 05:17 AM
I'm with Holden on this. Councilman Vastine is being evasive with his lack of an answer regarding who represented the prior broker. Can the Patch editor investigate this? It seems there's something there that we're not being told.
Bo Vastine February 23, 2013 at 02:12 PM
Really? The Mayor and majority on council select a provider after allowing the firm to modify their proposal...when no other firm was allowed to do the same...and you want to focus on who the people are rather than what happened to the process? I am being evasive? I have provided a clear overview of what transpired... Is the Mayor being evasive by not providing the reasoning behind his decision to allow this? You can take shots at the messenger... But it won't change the facts.
Olefin February 23, 2013 at 02:40 PM
Yes Councilman I do want to focus on the people. You're still deflecting. If we're going to have true transparency in our government then we should know the relationships between those choosing these outside contractors and the representatives of these contractors. When I read the story, it was about Sandy cleanup expenses. You brought up the insurance broker in your comment. You also do not seem to want to directly answer HM's question about who was involved. That is evasive. Will you or won't you answer who represents Conner Strong and DAG?
A real town employee February 23, 2013 at 03:27 PM
You are on the money Olefin. The connection of the old broker with the former party in power is real and should be publicized. I know this as fact. I'm so worried about typing this that I'm sitting in a public place with an IP address that can't be tracked. I don't know if the new broker is connected or not, but the old one was.
Olefin February 25, 2013 at 04:06 PM
I've also heard that real town employee. I figured Bo would go silent when called on it. Thanks for confirming what I've heard.


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