EAST WINDSOR: Concerns raised over hiring of inspector

By Amy Batista, Special Writer
The township unanimously awarded a contract for a private elevator inspector and plan review services despite a resident raising concerns over the company’s history of being found guilty of violations.
Resident and Republican candidate for Township Council Sean O’Connor told council on Aug. 4 that EIC Inspection Agency Corp of New Jersey was found guilty of violations.
“The company that you will be deciding whether or not to award a contract to tonight to conduct elevator inspections was found guilty by the New Jersey Supreme Court of violating its obligations under the State Uniform Construction Code Act and the department’s regulations,” said Mr. O’Connor.
He said specifically the company failed to disclose legal actions over numerous years, which it was required to do for annual reauthorization.
“EIC’s violations are based on the answer it supplied to a single question on several of the forms it submitted for its annual reauthorization,” he said. “The question at issue is ‘Have any legal actions occurred this year involving the agency or its employees?’”
Whereas EIC answered no to that question, the administrative law judge and the commissioner concluded that an on-site inspection agency has to report legal actions filed during the calendar year from 2001-07.
“However, in 2001, a case was filed against EIC and EIC later settled that case for $120,000,” he said. “In 2002, a case was filed against EIC and EIC’s owner admitted that its insurance carrier provided its defense and, in 2003, EIC filed an answer to an amended complaint in a third action filed that year.”
The administrative law judge found violations and the commissioner found that EIC failed to report the actions filed in 2001, 2002, and 2003, he added.
“So mayor and council, I can’t help but note, and everyone here, that this is the second time in six weeks that East Windsor is awarding a contract to a vendor that has legal and ethical problems,” he said, adding that EIC ignored state law and failed to disclose lawsuits.
He asked what council knew about the lawsuits.
“Isn’t one compelled to wonder why EIC failed to mention these lawsuits,” he said. “Is it in the interest of East Windsor to award a contract to a business that withholds this kind of information?”
Mayor Janice Mironov said that it is a proposed contracted award with respect to elevator inspection services within the community.
“We have always gone out and gotten a private, third party agency to do the inspections and then what happens is they keep a certain amount of the fee that is collected,” she said, adding it is not a budgetary item.
She said that the Department of Community Affairs has a list of certified agencies that are permitted to “perform this function.”
“They are the only companies and agencies allowed,” she said.
She said tonight’s recommendation by staff is the result of solicitation of those proposals.
“Again, all these companies are state certified after they go through the necessary credentials and inspections by the Department of Community Affairs,” she said.
The township solicited proposals on July 6 and received one proposal on July 24.
“The recommendation is a for a two-year award,” she said.
Councilman John Zoller said that the recommendation “looks like a great cost savings to the town.”
According to the resolution, the lowest cost proposal submitted by EIC Inspection Agency Corp came in at 55 percent of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs fee.
“I see the fee is half of the amount,” he said. “That is a great savings. Thank you very much