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Thursday, July 18, 2024

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Township, Taxpayers Face Off Over Hockey Rink Contract

By Joe Hart

COURT HOUSE — Some taxpayers are irked at Middle Township Committee for awarding a lucrative recreation construction contract to a local company that they think already owes the township money.
The $329,836 contract to build a new street hockey rink at the Clarence and Georgiana Davies Sports Complex on Goshen Road went to Albrecht and Heun, a mining and recycling company that’s involved in litigation over a disputed sum of money owed to the township for recycling host community benefits.
Township Committee awarded the contract Monday in a 2-0 vote with Mayor F. Nathan Doughty abstaining.
Madeline Filipski, of the Middle Taxpayers’ Association, questioned several aspects of the township’s process and judgment in awarding a contract of this size at this time considering the financial situation in the township, county, state and nation.
She said the township should have considered this project during the budget process when more residents attend township meetings. She said it denied people opportunity to express their opinions.
Committeeman Steve Barry responded that the public had opportunity to comment during the bond ordinance hearings that were held to fund the project.
Filipski also questioned the timing of the project.
“Why are we doing this now when our schools need roofs?” Filipski asked.
She said the township has $3 million in tax liens on township properties.
“People who have been living here for generations are loosing their homes,” she added.
Filipski also asked if there was a conflict of interests since Phil Heun, of Albrecht and Heun, was the president of the township’s Recreation Advisory Committee.
Deputy Mayor Susan DeLanzo explained that the non-paid committee members meet monthly and provide input into program and facility development.
Filipski asked who determined if the contract bid was the appropriate price.
Township Engineer Vincent Orlando said his office provides a non-published engineer’s estimate of the project cost for the tabulation committee’s use only. In the case of the hockey rink, Orlando said they received four bids by the Aug. 13 deadline and Albrecht and Heun was the most qualified, lowest bidder.
The township also received four bids for the hockey rink lighting project, but rejected them because they were too high.
Filipski also questioned giving the contract to Albrect and Heun due an ongoing controversy.
“It mystifies me that you would award a contract to a company that already owes you $180,000 in host community benefits,” she said.
According to a report done by township auditors Ford, Scott and Associates, Albrecht and Heun owes the township approximately $180,000 in benefits after having changed the calculation method several years ago without getting the proper approvals first.
According to company figures, it’s the township that owes money to Albrecht and Heun.
Barry said the disagreement would be decided in court.
In the end, Filipski asked committee to reconsider its decision and rescind the contract.
“We just can’t afford it,” she said.
Not all public comments regarding the project were negative.
Connie Corrado, who attended the meeting on another matter, noted that she was in favor of the township’s investment in recreation for the children.
“It makes for a stronger community,” she said.
She also noted that municipal jobs provide employment for residents to help them pay taxes and improve the local economy.
Contact Hart at (609) 886-8600 Ext 35 or at: jhart@cmcherald.com

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