A contractor hired annually by Orange Township since 2003 has been paid nearly $1 million since 2010, with little documentation of his expenses or the services he provides, according to records.
From January 2010 through August 2015, the township has made $826,704 in payments to RPO LLC, owned by Scott Overturf, who serves as a construction consultant.
But one current trustee, Lisa Knapp, has questioned the value Overturf provides to the township.
Fellow Trustee Rob Quigley estimates that Overturf has been paid about $130,000 each year he has contracted with the township, putting his total compensation at more than $1.5 million.
While Quigley acknowledged the township needs to do a better job of documenting the work that Overturf takes on, Quigley said he defends the value that Overturf provides, saying he has an expertise in construction and has saved the township money by discovering defects in contractors’ work on several occasions.
“Every single trustee has reviewed this and saw the benefit in what he brought to the table,” he said.
Knapp isn’t so sure. “There is something sketchy going on,” said Knapp, who called for a special audit of the township when she brought the issue up earlier this month. “I know he does some stuff. But I’m not even exactly sure what he does.”
Knapp has taken particular issue with the lack of documentation Overturf provides to the township.
Two separate invoices that covers an 11-day period from Jan. 21-31 in 2014 show that Overturf billed the township for 134 hours. Under a portion of the invoice labeled “projects,” Overturf write “11 projects” on one invoice and “trustee meeting” on the other.
The invoices also include 574 miles billed to the township with no dates or locations of travel, $268 in phone costs and slightly more than $100 in “tech costs.” Neither of the invoices include any supporting documents, such as receipts or bills.
He billed the township $9,042 for the 11-day period.
Overturf submitted three invoices in January, totaling $13,345. Just two of the invoices included hours, but all three listed the projects as “trustee meeting.” Overturf’s name is mentioned just once in the minutes of the trustees’ first three trustee meetings of the year .
The invoices also include 665 miles, $552 in phone costs and $73 in “tech costs.” No documentation accompanies the invoices.
Nearly all of the other invoices obtained by The Gazette from 2014 and 2015 lack detail. A handful list specific project numbers.
“This has been going on for more than 10 years,” Knapp said. “I don’t know why it took me to actually bring this to the trustees’ attention.”
Quigley and Trustee Debbie Taranto said they are both open to re-examining the township’s billing process to require contractors to provide more documentation.
“Does it need to be revisited? Yeah. I completely agree,” said Quigley, who added that the township’s arrangement with Overturf has not been flagged in any audits conducted by the state.
Overturf himself denied any wrongdoing and downplayed the lack of documentation provided on the invoices he submits.
“I’ve done everything they ask me to do,” he said.
He, along with Quigley and Taranto, said it would cost much more to hire separate consultants for every project in the township.
“Construction administration costs can easily run $120 to $155 per hour, plus expenses,” said Taranto. “We pay half that, including expenses. We could hire a construction administrator for each and every project, but then would probably pay them for each project what we pay RPO in a year. That makes no financial sense and does not have the best interest of Orange Township at heart.”
Quigley also said “sometimes contractors are the best fit,” when asked about hiring a full-time township employee to handle Overturf’s duties.
Both Overturf and Quigley say Knapp’s lack of knowledge about RPO projects are her own doing. They also suggested she is raising the issue to curry favor with voters ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
“She is completely disconnected from the township,” said Quigley. “She needs to be engaged.”
Knapp, who has voted at least once to hire RPO and several times to approve purchase orders to the company, has refused to sign the checks issued to the company. She said she has raised questions about Overturf’s relationship with the township several times, but has not received any answers.
“I can’t get information from anybody,” she said.
Overturf — whose work for the township could be cut back as growth slows, according to Quigley — said he would be willing to sit down with Knapp and explain his role.
“The only thing I care about is the project, saving money and getting what we pay for,” he said.
Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.
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