Wallingford mayor asks for review of cemetery contract

Wallingford mayor asks for review of cemetery contract

reporter photo

WALLINGFORD — Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. has asked the legal department to look into the town’s handling of a bid process in 2012 after Town Councilor Craig Fishbein raised concerns about the process at a meeting Tuesday, claiming the town may have violated purchasing ordinances.

Fishbein raised concerns over a project the town awarded to a company in 2012 to “clean and restore” the walls at Center Street Cemetery, saying the town didn’t follow the process as required by ordinance. The town put the project out to bid, Fishbein said, and received proposals from three vendors. Fishbein claimed the town ultimately did not choose any of the three vendors and instead chose a different vendor, Perfection Construction Management, a company in the Bronx.

Perfection Construction Management did not submit a bid for the Center Street Cemetery project, according to Fishbein. The company previously submitted a bid to the Board of Education for a “masonry services” contract that lasted from July 2011 to June 2014, according to bid documents.

The company couldn’t be reached for comment late Wednesday afternoon. 

“It appears to me the town went out to bid for the work with certain specifications and requirements and, for whatever reason, the job was given to a company that did not bid on this project,” Fishbein said Wednesday. “The whole bid process is supposed to foster legitimacy and credibility in the utilization of taxpayer dollars. We have a system of ordinances that was put in place to try to maintain transparency in the awarding of contracts. and if that wasn’t followed, it’s troubling.”

Dickinson said the meeting Tuesday was the first he had heard about any issues with the bid process in 2012. On Wednesday, he asked corporation counsel Janis Small to look into the issue.

Dickinson didn’t want to go into detail about how the contract was awarded in 2012 because “I don’t have all the facts.”

“This goes back five years,” Dickinson said. “Last night was the first I heard anything about it, so I need to be made aware of what the whole story is.”

"There’s very possibly a very good explanation” for how the project was awarded, Dickinson added. “We’ll take a look at it and find out what the answer is.”

Fishbein said he reached out to several law enforcement agencies this week to investigate the matter, including the FBI’s municipal fraud unit, the Attorney General’s Office and the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, but none of those offices have jurisdiction over the matter.

The FBI’s municipal fraud unit only deals with misappropriation and diversion of funds. The Attorney General’s Office doesn’t have jurisdiction over municipal matters. And the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney only investigates when criminal activity is involved.

Fishbein first raised the issue publicly at the Town Council’s regular meeting Tuesday. Fishbein said he wasn’t aware of the matter until this week, when he reviewed town bid documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests.

The town ultimately paid $60,000 to Perfection Construction Management to do the work, Fishbein said. Among the three vendors who submitted a proposal, the lowest-bidder had a cost figure of $62,000, according to bid documents, and the other two had costs of $97,979 and $235,200.

Town purchasing agent Sal Amadeo and Small could not be reached for comment.



Twitter: @MatthewZabierek

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