Dover Council meets to discuss overages

Dover Council meets to discuss overages

In response to litigation filed by Mayor Richard Homrighausen, Dover Council voted unanimously to adopt emergency ordinance 18-22 at a special committee of the whole meeting on Monday, April 11.

The ordinance authorizes the law director to contract with outside counsel to defend all filed litigation concerning the matters pending in the courts or administrative agencies filed against the city, its law director and the three employees fired by Homrighausen and to provide a defense and any necessary representation of the city, the law director and the employees fired.

Homrighausen has been charged with 15 criminal charges due to alleged misconduct in office.

“For some time, as it relates to the Dover Chemical thing, we've heard from the mayor about the cost of litigation and how we should avoid it and how it opens the city up to additional liability,” Council President Shane Gunnoe said. “And in this situation, quite frankly, he's engaging in legal action against the city and opening us up for additional legal expenses. So the city of Dover has an obligation to defend its employees, the city and the law director in court.”

Council member Justin Perkoski asked if there would be any way to recoup the costs of lawyers for the litigation filed by Homrighausen.

“We intend to file for Civil Rule 11 sanctions and request all costs that occur,” law director Douglas O’Meara said.

The rule is meant to deter frivolous lawsuits and can impose sanctions for violations.

“A lot of the suits involve (the mayor) in a personal capacity against the city, which makes it interesting if he's taking action on something he's involved in,” Gunnoe said.

Warren Holmes, a regional sales manager with Sulzer Turbo Services, answered questions from council. Holmes traveled from Texas to attend the meeting.

Sulzer Turbo was contracted by the city last year to help with a major inspection at the power plant. They initially proposed to the plant manager, at the time, to open the turbine, inspect it and see what might need done. Once the machine was open, problems were found that needed “some level of repair,” Holmes said.

“The way we like to approach critical turbo machinery is to repair it so that it's like new, so the machine can operate reliably and safely,” Holmes said. “It's very costly to open a machine. If you do open it, the best practice, if you can, is to take care of any necessary items that you can.”

The turbo internals were removed from the machine and sent to Texas for further inspection. Sulzer employees noted some items that needed to be addressed, and a proposal was sent to Filippi. He accepted and said to do the repairs.

“We went ahead and repaired the internals and sent them back up to the plant and rebuilt the machine,” Holmes said. “So where the problem lies is the POs, multiple POs.”

Using the company’s terminology, they had an initial purchase order to “open and close the machine,” which was an agreement for 30 days amounting to approximately $150,000 of work.

“We didn't have a purchase order to open, to take everything out and rebuild the machine,” Holmes said. “Once Dave Filippi made a decision to repair the machine, then you go from 30 days to about 100 days to take everything out and then to rebuild everything. We did not have a purchase order for the time we take everything out and to rebuild the machine.

“We were asking Dave — I’m not the account manager; I have commercial responsibility over the eastern third of the U.S. — so I trust my guys are taking care of business, and that's where the problem was. We told Dave what we wanted to do. And he said, 'Yes, do it.' And we said, 'OK, we're going to need updated purchase orders.'”

Holmes said the company trusted Filippi as they had worked with him in the past and he had always kept his word.

“We trusted him that he's going to get the purchase order amended, and he didn't do that,” Holmes said.

It is usually the policy of Sulzer not to complete work without a purchase order, but in some cases it’s more efficient and cost effective to continue the work. The difference between the 30 days of work to the 100 days caused the increase.

“The cost went up another couple of hundred thousand, and that's the amount we were asking Dave (Filippi) to amend the PO for,” Holmes said. “That’s where I'm at now. The city of Dover has paid for all of the internal repairs, and they've paid for part of its technical direction, to overhaul the machine onsite at their plant, but they still owe us for that work about $175,000. The exact number is $175,603.06. And then there are two other (bills) to ship everything down to our shop in Houston and to send them back.”

Sulzer took care of arranging and paying for freight on the project, which resulted in two freight bills they haven’t been paid for yet. One invoice is for $12,405, and the other is for $11,340.

“The total the City of Dover owes us is $199,348.56,” Holmes said. “We gave you signed time sheets. We have signed time sheets for every day we were onsite, signed by Dave Filippi, and by signing the time sheet, you agree that that work was executed, and you agree to pay for that work. So all of that's in place. It was just there was a dropping of the ball. Let's say of getting a purchase order amended or getting another purchase order drafted and sent to us.”

Auditor Nicole Stoldt said the reason she and council were unaware of the overages is companies do not bill unless they have a purchase order.

“It wasn't until we started getting public records requests for emails that we found that there was additional money that was owed to them,” Stoldt said.

Council then went on to discuss another unit that was sent to Texas for a technical assessment. It was thought at the time the unit was purchased it would be able to be used as a replacement at the light plant, should any major breakdowns occur. The city owes a little more than $200,000 for that assessment, but Holmes did not have the exact number.

Holmes said the “chances are slim that it is a drop-in spare.” It would cost $1.7 million to overhaul the unit to make it operational.

After much discussion and input from Holmes and assistant light plant superintendent Jason Hall, it was decided it would be best to look at selling the unit. According to Holmes, there is not much of a market for it in the U.S., but there would be in South or Central America.

After a long evening and a long day for some city officials who attended hearings at the Tuscarawas County Courthouse for case statements in one of the cases of Mayor Homrighausen versus the City of Dover, council adjourned for the evening after no response was heard to Gunnoe’s question of the need to go into executive session.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is set for April 18.

Beacon Subscribe