Authorization to spend $38,000
- The tree contract for $38,000 was not bid, was not advertised anywhere, and there was no public notice that could be viewed.
- Only two companies and the county provided quotes after being asked to do so by officials.
- The contract amount under consideration was listed as $15,000 on the Jan. 17 agenda, but the board approved a contract for $38,000.
- The company that was awarded the contract submitted a quote for the the $38,000 a week after they were awarded it.
Sequence of Events
Sometime in December 2018 the township sought quotes from several companies.
They received a written quote from Ripley Tree Services on Dec. 26 listing a rate of $2,800 per hour (see Ripley quote below).
They also received a quote from Vancuren Tree Services for $3,500 an hour. It is unclear if this hourly amount was provided in writing or verbally. The only formal quote from Vancuren was dated Jan. 25 (see Vancuren quote below).
On January 2, 2019 the Chester Township road superintendent emailed trustees that the department had $15,000 available for tree removal on Sperry Road. Three choices were presented (see full email chain below):
On Jan. 7, an internal request was made by Trustee Joseph Mazzurco for an additional $23,000 from local funds (see below).
The Jan. 17 meeting agenda states that trustees were considering a resolution to approve up to $15,000.
Trustee Bob Rogish, who was absent for the Jan. 17 meeting, emailed Superintendent Mike Farrell the morning of the vote stating:
"You have been back and forth and analyzed all scenarios. Your job as road superintendent is to recommend the contractor to the board. So, my question to you is who do you feel will get the most done in the right of way with the $15,000 you have set aside for trees."
At the actual meeting on Jan. 17, which was attended by Ken Radtke, Joe Mazzurco and Craig Richter, the amount available for tree removal was changed to $38,000. Trustees Radtke and Mazzurco passed a motion to hire Vancuren Tree Services for that amount (see below). All funds came from Chester Township's budget in spite of officials stating funds were supplied by the Ohio Public Works Commission. See OPWC link where the agency says that Chester officials "misstated the purpose and need for tree removal."
Regarding the discrepancy in the amounts, Fiscal Officer Craig Richter stated in an email:
"The 15,000 to spend statement is only an amount suggested by the Road Superintendent to the Board of Trustees. It is and was the decision of the Board which Vendor to use to provide the service." (original email below).
Draft minutes of the meeting state: "Mr. Mazzurco felt VanCuren was a reputable company...He only knew a little information about Ripley."
On Jan. 25, 2019, one week after the resolution was passed, Vancuren submitted a quote for $38,000.
Was it a contract? Was it a bid?
On March 6, the township's fiscal officer said in an email about the contract/bid/quote from Vancuren:
"In response to #3, there is no contract, the quote has the description of the work to be completed and that was what was approved by the Board. The only other documents on file from VanCurren are copies of VanCurren BWC Certificate, Insurance and W-9. Those are attached with identification numbers removed." (original email below).
He stated that the work was not bid:
"The project was not put out for bid since it was under the required threshold. However the attached are estimates that were used in the public discussion regarding the project.
Yet, at the March 28, 2019 trustee meeting, Trustee Mazzurco said the following in response to why Vancuren got the work:
(at 43:15 of recording) “So a couple of reasons. So Ripley, originally, so, this was bid, this was open to bid, to take down the trees..”