Tensions were high at the Baldwin Township Board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15, where board members suggested they were blindsided by Supervisor Kim Good.
That’s because Good authorized $100,000 worth of new roofs for township buildings without the board’s consent.
Five township roofs had sustained some hail damage during a recent storm. The Town Hall roof was leaking. An adjustor for the insurance company said the roofs needed to be replaced. A contractor was hired to perform the jobs, materials were purchased and work had begun. It seemed like a done deal.
The problem was that only one of the five board members was privy to the assessed damages, the insurance claim or the hiring of the contractor.It turned out that was a big problem.
“Baldwin Township is a creature of the state Legislature,” said attorney Robert Ruppe, who attended Tuesday’s meeting to state his professional opinion and offer a recommended course of action.
“The power of contract is given to you only as a board. None of you, individually, can enter into a contract on behalf of the township for anything or for any amount. When dealing with public funds, you have to make sure you are being good stewards of those public funds.”
When Supervisor Jay Swanson found out about the reroofing, he ordered the contractor to stop all progress and contacted the township attorney.
“We had a lot of time to talk about the needed roof repairs. We didn’t need to jump the gun,” Swanson said.
Supervisor Randy Atwood agreed.
“I have a huge problem with how this went down. This is exactly what we didn’t want to happen,” Atwood said.
Atwood was referring to an earlier board meeting where he questioned the need for an insurance settlement in the first place.
Not only was the work authorized by only one board member, but also no contract was prepared for the work. The board has no idea what kind of warranty, if any, is on the material or workmanship.
“This is insane,” Atwood said. “We have quotes dated Saturday and Sunday when we pulled them off the job on Thursday. And one of the quotes is from a residential contractor, not a commercial contractor.”
In an effort to remedy the situation and on advice from the township attorney, the board passed two motions.
First, payment to the contractor was approved for work that was already completed, not to exceed the insurance settlement and contingent upon the passing of all relevant inspections.
Second, the board entered into a contract with Glenn Roofing of Princeton for the rest of the work. In addition, the board appointed Swanson as negotiator to work with the attorney, insurance company and contractor to complete what remains of the project.
“We need to get beyond this,” Swanson said. “I have worked really hard to keep things transparent and above board.”
“This was an unintentional mistake,” Good said in an interview with the Princeton Union-Eagle. “I had a communication from the insurance company that we didn’t need quotes. The Town Hall roof was leaking and the weather was not on our side. I am in charge of buildings and maintenance, so I authorized the contractor to begin work. The job was funded by insurance proceeds, not tax dollars,” she said.
“I didn’t realize what I was doing, and I apologize for any inconvenience. I apologize to the board, to the contractor and to the people,” she said. “Clearly, I overstepped my bounds, but I was not malicious.”
The amounts of the repairs are as follows:
Town Hall – $14,730
Fire hall – $38,863
Maintenance shed – $42,442
Salt shed – $5,461
Young Park shed – $5,138
Ruppe summed up the situation when he said, “This should never have happened and it cannot happen this way in the future.”