City ordered to repay funds from grant

By Frank Lewis

October 28, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

At a time when the city of Portsmouth is strapped for funds, it is going to have to pay back money from a 2008 grant Portsmouth Mayor David Malone said pertains to the Rose Street Park project in Sciotoville.

The city responded to the Office of Community Development’s (OCD’s) Feb. 27, 2013 monitoring report which was issued from PCD’s Jan. 7, 2013 monitoring of Grant Agreement A-F-08-2DH-1. The city’s March 12, 2013 response addressed a number of noted Citizen Participation, Procurement and Construction Management, and Labor Statistics findings. However, the OCD says the city has not adequately addressed all of the compliance violations in those area. It goes on to say, “additionally, the city has failed to provide a response to the Financial Management finding.”

Under “Citizen Participation,” the letter said the city is required to submit minutes and an attendance list for the amendment public hearing, which was held on Sept. 21, 2013, or a narrative that demonstrates an understanding of the documentation the city is required to maintain for future grant awards.

Under “Procurement and Contract Management,” the city submitted the notice to bidders, which was advertised at least once on Sept. 16, 2009, and preceded the Oct. 2, 2009 bid opening by at least 14 days. The letter goes on to say, “for future grant awards, the city will be required to publish the bid notice at least twice.”

According to the OCD, the city submitted bid packets from three bidders - Triton Services, Inc. for $58,480; Rehabilitation Technology for $64,800 and FeeCorp Corporation for $80,760. However, the city awarded the contract to FeeCorp, which was the highest bidder, The city also failed to submit an engineer’s estimate for the project, so OCD is unable to determine whether any of the submitted bids were 10 percent of the original estimated cost. Communities are required to award Community Development Block Grant funded contracts to the lowest and best bidder. If the city had a reason to believe that any of the bidders could not complete the project according to specifications, they were required to submit documentation to OCD along with a written explanation as to why the contract was not awarded to the lowest and best bidder.

Additionally, OCD said the contract that was submitted by the city was only executed by FeeCorp and not signed by the mayor. It also, according to the letter, provided incomplete prevailing wage notification forms for three employees and failed to submit labor interview reports for FeeCorp employees or document that the applicable wage decision and employee rights postings are visible at the job site.

Under “Financial Management,” the city provided a Detailed Expense Transactions print-out for the Auditor’s Office to supplement expenditure documentation for the grant, and the city exceeded the 15 percent cap on administration.

In the final breakdown, the administration cost exceeded the allowable expenditure by $213.94, which must be returned to OCD, and it had an unexpended balance of $3,489.40. After previously returning $331.52, the total amount of the repayment required for that grant stands at $3,703.34.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.