from Toms River Patch blog
Allowing the owner of the building now leased for an Ocean County Health Department facility in Lakewood to retrofit it for that use cut the cost by at least 40 percent compared with having other contractors do the work, officials said Wednesday.
The cost of the conversion, about $800,000, by Beth Medrash Govoha, has been criticized for weeks by Michele Rosen of Waretown, who is running as a Democrat for a seat on the Board of Freeholders.
She said bids should have been obtained for the conversion.
"We bid everything we were required to bid,’’ said Daniel Regenye, the county’s Public Health coordinator.
He said prices provided by contractors were higher than those the rabbinical college offered. The Beth Medrash Govoha prices were "at or well below market rates we would not be able to beat,’’ he said.
"If we had to build it privately we would have had to pay prevailing wages,’’ which would have increased the price "40 percent or more,’’ said Robert Singer, a member of the Board of Health.
Victoria Miragliotta, director of Administration, Finance, and Program Development, said a pair of federal grants totaling $459,000 helped pay the cost of the conversion of the space used by the Health Department, which is flanked by the only two federally funded health clinics in the county.
Federal funds continue to pay to operate the Health Department facility, and if Congress eliminates support of the Woman, Infants and Childrens program, the lease ends.
Miragliotta said when the board started looking for a location to replace the space it outgrew in the county-owned Northern Ocean Resource Center in Lakewood in 2007, the price for the Beth Medrash Govoha building was $27 a square foot. Board members balked at paying that much, she explained. The post-recession rate negotiated was $15 a square foot, with the landlord paying to maintain the parking lot and common areas of the building.
The board got a $20 a square foot one-time credit for the conversion, $60,000 to upgrade the air conditioning system, and $25,000 for electrical upgrades, she added.
Rosen questioned why Susan Rogers, a former Point Pleasant Council President, was hired to oversee the conversion and what her credentials were for the job.
Regenye said Rogers was "highly credentialed,’’ and charged "a little over $10,000,’’ for her work. Miragliotto said she is a licensed New Jersey builder and title producer with a background in construction.
Singer defended the Board’s decision to have Ocean Health Initiatives provide dental services once offered in Toms River.
"Our dental clinic was virtually unused,’’ Singer said. As a federally funded health clinic, OHI serves the "uninsured and underinsured,’’ at three locations around the county staffed by full time dentists.
"We could not do that at any price,’’ he explained.
Shelly Morgan of Manahawkin, the retired information technology director of the Health Department, challenged the claim by board members that Miragliotta had negotiated a health insurance contract with no increase in premiums this year. She said her premiums went up.
Miragliotto said there was no increase for medical insurance, which the industry average was an 8 to 9 percent hike. The rates for an optional dental plan did increase, she said.
(The comments on the site were even more revealing)
The more I read the more I believe there should be an investigation into the Ocean County Board of Health.
Reply Uglykid825 2:18 pm on Thursday, July 14, 2011
Reply Sean Conneamhe 6:56 am on Saturday, July 16, 2011
Some people believe that $800,000 of taxpayers' money is being used to buy votes in Lakewood.
Reply Joy 11:41 am on Sunday, July 17, 2011
There are many who believe that is exactly what happened and want the FBI to look into that John, and also the transfer of over 2 and a half million of Health Department taxpayer dollars to a Lakewood bank partially owned by a Health Department board member. Who does it benifit to transfter all this money to Lakewood? Follow the money.
Reply Sean Conneamhe 9:08 am on Monday, July 18, 2011
Time to play "Connect the Dots".