Former Diggs Employee Notified School Building Committee, Council Member About Reimbursement Issues

by Categorized: Budget, City Council, Schools Date:

A former Diggs Construction employee in 2011 notified the Hartford School Building Committee and a member of the city council that city officials and Diggs had failed to recoup millions of dollars in state reimbursements for school construction projects.

Jose Rendon, who was in charge of certified payrolls for Diggs until he left in 2010, knew about the company’s failure to properly submit paperwork in seeking the reimbursements. Diggs was the program manager for the school projects from 2003 to 2010, city officials have said.

Rendon, who lives in Hartford’s South End, told the school building committee during a public comment session in April 2011 about the issues. He also submitted a letter to the committee chairman at the time, John Motley.

“As the city is looking at consolidation of services, staff reductions and other cost-cutting measures, I am concerned that this potential funding gap has not been factored in budget conversations,” Rendon wrote in the letter. “I am bringing this issue to the Hartford School Building Committee to ensure that you are aware of the issue, but more importantly, to ask that this glaring oversight not be placed at the feet of city taxpayers.”

You can view the letter here: Diggs_HSBC_letter_4.2011

Motley said Monday that after he received the letter, he passed along the information to the city’s new program manager, ARCADIS/O&G, and to city officials, such as then-Chief Operating Officer, David Panagore and James A. Keaney Jr., then-director of capital projects,  who began to look into the issues.

“Something this big is not something someone in authority would ignore,” Motley said. “It’s a huge issue.”

The school building committee has formed a subcommittee that deals with change orders for school construction projects, Motley pointed out. It meets monthly, sometimes more, to review change orders, he said. If no issues arise, the subcommittee recommends approval of the change orders to the school building committee.

Rendon said that later in 2011, he also discussed the reimbursement issues with city Councilman Larry Deutsch and forwarded him the letter.

Reached by phone Monday, Deutsch said he recalled that Rendon expressed concerns, but couldn’t remember the substance of the conversation. He said he could not recall if he conducted any follow-up.

To read more about the reimbursement issue, click here.

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