Critics Want More Details on Sandy Recovery Project Spending in N.J.

Mon August 11, 2014 - Northeast Edition
Geoff MulvIhill - Associated Press




TRENTON, N.J. (AP) New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney said newly released reports on the state’s biggest Superstorm Sandy recovery projects are not detailed enough.

Gov. Chris Christie’s administration released its first integrity monitor reports recently, more than 16 months after Christie signed a law requiring them for contracts of $5 million or more.

Sweeney said the 24-page reports, which were released the week of July 14, include summaries of projects but do not give enough information.

“We want details,” Sweeney, a Democrat from West Deptford, said during a news conference at the Statehouse. “We want to know what we did right and what we did wrong.”

Sweeney said the report cost $5 million. Details from contractors who completed each section show total fees and expenses of about $235,000.

A spokesman of Sweeney initially said the Senate president had misspoken, but later said the $5 million figure is correct because it includes spending so far on a firm to consider companies eligible for Sandy recovery contracts and one hired by the Department of Community Affairs for monitoring.

“The program is in full compliance with the statute that Senator Sweeney himself sponsored,” said Michael Drewniak, a spokesman of Christie.

Democratic lawmakers have had other complaints about the monitoring.

Some complained earlier this year that the administration was taking too long to hire monitors, which meant delays in making public information about the progress of programs.

Only five contracts are subject to the monitoring. Grant awards are excluded, as are big projects where there are no individual contracts worth at least $5 million.

Those subject to monitoring are the state’s housing programs run through the Department of Community Affairs and projects in Atlantic Highlands, Belmar, Elizabeth and Perth Amboy.

The Belmar boardwalk reconstruction was completed nearly a year before monitoring began. The marina replacement in Atlantic Highlands was nearly complete as of June 30. A Marina in Perth Amboy, waterfront park in Elizabeth and the DCA’s programs are expected to take longer.