Council agrees to pay disputed engineering invoice

WELLSVILLE – Village council members unanimously approved payment of a previously-disputed engineering invoice during a special meeting held Tuesday afternoon in council chambers.

The invoice was from GGJ Engineers for the Second Street force main pump station project completed last year. It amounted to $6,382.82 for total travel expenses over the course of the project from Sept. 3, 2012 through June 3, 2013.

GGJ Engineering is located in Eastlake, just north of Cleveland.

According to Diane Dinch, who chairs the Water, Sewer and Refuse Committee, the source of the problem was a disparity between the travel expenses and amounts to be paid for each listed on the invoice. The disparity arose from a 10-percent fee that Dinch says council members were not initially aware of. She credited assistant fiscal officer Donna Rudder with discovering the pattern of the discrepancy.

“The dispute was, the cost and the amount weren’t adding up,” she said following the meeting. Dinch says she had no issue with the travel expenses presented for reimbursement as part of the invoice, but had been surprised by the 10 percent added to each expense listed on the statement.

“As long as I’ve been around, travel expense reimbursement is just that: It’s a reimbursement of your travel expense. You never add anything to it or make a profit off of it,” she said. The village contacted the firm, which supplied copies of company credit card statements for the fiscal office to review and have on-hand for future audits.

After contacting Rob Jurs, president of GGJ, the final charge was negotiated down, with Jurs agreeing to eliminate the 10-percent fee. That brought the total to $5,564.43, saving the village $818. “That’s what we agreed upon, and that’s what we voted to pay,” Dinch said.

GGJ has served as the engineering firm for numerous village projects over the years, and this was not the first invoice whose payment was delayed due to a billing dispute. Dinch says this issue, as with previous problems, arose from how costs are tabulated and coded on GGJ invoices.

“They’re not explained well, they’re not broken down well,” she said. To avoid such trouble in any future business conducted with the firm, Dinch says the village will request a more explicit breakdown of costs and charges.