By Frank Lewis
Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen took the opportunity Monday to explain where the $42,000 was spent in responding to public records requests from a citizen of Portsmouth seeking explanation of the Water Level Sensor at 23rd Street and Grandview Avenue and other related questions sent to the EPA.
“I had some people come up and ask me, ‘how in the world could you have spent 42,000 on public records requests copying?,” Allen said. “I want to clarify it – it’s not copying costs. What that is is for public records requests that were made and we complied with every one of those public records requests. And then, what happened was, pieces of those documents are then taken and they were misrepresented and sent off to the U.S. EPA in Chicago. And then, U.S. EPA in Chicago contacts us and wants to know why we’re violating our Consent Order or when certain allegations are made, we’re required to document and provide evidence that we are actually in compliance.”
He said that requires taking calculations from an engineering firm that was not in the scope of their services.
“Also it has required a lot of hours for legal counsel, our environmental attorney to either draft legislation or be in conference calls explaining to the U.S. EPA that the city of Portsmouth is in total compliance with all of our agreements,” Allen said. “I just want to reiterate that we are in total compliance with everything that has been required by the U.S. EPA. Everything that has been constructed has been reviewed by either Ohio EPA or U.S. EPA, but that is what the $42,000 in charges has been, not actual copying costs.”
A report Allen gave to City Council showed the city has had to pay its environmental attorney, Squire Patton Boggs $24,592.50 since January 31, 2014 and the city has incurred invoices from Strand Associates for mathematical calculations and documentation to the U.S. EPA refuting what he said were “false allegations” against the city. Those invoices, according to Allen, have totalled $17,590 so far.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.