Based on a recent Parsippany Resolution
Parsippany Focus received documentation from the New Jersey Libertarian Party, Open Government Advisory Project, that they have submitted a request to the Office of the Commissioner, Department of Community Affairs petitioning a rule in making it required for all Certifications of Available Funds to explicitly set forth the maximum dollar amount of the contract to be awarded.
Parsippany Focus published an article on July 9, 2014 titled, “Kovalick’s company hired to perform financial consulting services.” (See article by clicking here).
In that article, Parsippany Focus went to the Township Clerk’s office, immediately after the resolution was approved by Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Council to obtain a copy of the “Professional Services Agreement,” of Epic Solutions. The resolution was passed on Tuesday, July 8 by the Parsippany-Troy Hills Council 4-1. Council Vice President Robert Peluso voted against the resolution.
Parsippany Focus asked an employee in the Township’s Clerk’s Office, Leslie Miller, for a copy of the “Professional Services Agreement” with Epic Solutions, LLC, as stated in the resolution. She said it hasn’t been signed by the Administration (meaning Mayor James Barberio) and given to the Clerk’s Office yet, and that could take up to 30 days. According to Open Records Pubic Act (OPRA) contracts should be made available immediately in accordance with N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5(e).
Then on July 11 a legal notice was published in the Daily Record stating “The Contract and Resolution” awarding it are available for public information at the Office of the Township Clerk, Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills. Parsippany Focus Publisher, Frank Cahill, visited the Township Clerk once again, and was told by Township Clerk Yancy Wazirmas that the Clerk’s Office has not received the document from Administration and then Focus asked for a draft, and was told that it was “work in progress” and until completed the document would not be ready.
Parsippany Focus started investigating Epic Solutions because it was strange it wasn’t disclosed during the public meeting that Kovalick was involved with Epic Solutions, and how much they would be paid.
According to filings with the State of New Jersey, Kovalick either owns all or part of Epic Solutions, LLC.
On July 10, Mr. John Paff, requested “immediate access” to the contract, from information printed in Parsippany Focus, and Township Clerk Yancy Wazirmas responded on July 11, stating that:
We are in receipt of your OPRA request for “the Professional Service Agreement with EPIC Solutions, LLC.” The document you are seeking is not in the possession of the Custodian of Records. The resolution adopted by the Township Council at their meeting on July 8th states: “That the Township Council hereby authorizes execution by the Mayor and witness by the Township Clerk of a professional services agreement with EPIC Solutions, LLC, in a form acceptable to the Township Attorney.” Until such time that the completed document is received by this office, it remains as an exemption under N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.1: “Inter-agency or intra-agency advisory, consultative or deliberative material.”
Then Mr. Paff checked Notice of Contract Awarded published in the Daily Record on July 11. That published notice, states that the amount of the contract “will exceed $17,500.”
On July 11, Mr. Paff submitted an additional public records request to Wazirmas for the “certification of fund availability, as required by N.J.A.C. § 5:30-5.4(a)(1), related to the award of the contract to EPIC Solutions, LLC.” On August 1, 2014, Wazirmas responded with a “Certification of Value”, signed by Assistant Business Administrator Paula Cozzarelli, which, like the newspaper publication, provided information no more detailed than that the contract with EPIC Solutions, LLC. “will exceed $17,500.”
Paff chairs the New Jersey Libertarian Party’s Open Government Advocacy Project which seeks to maximize the amount of information available to citizens from government agencies. “The group believes that without prompt and meaningful access to governmental information, citizens and taxpayers are unable to effectively fulfill their vital role in monitoring government and seeking redress for governmental excesses and abuses. It appears that Parsippany-Troy Hills Township, perhaps intentionally, is keeping the public from knowing the “up to” dollar amount that EPIC Solutions, LLC, will be able to receive under this contract. Given EPIC’s relationship to the Township’s former Chief Financial Officer, the public has an extraordinarily strong interest in knowing the amount of taxpayer money that EPIC Solutions, LLC may receive.”
Paff “points out that nothing in N.J.A.C. § 5:30-5.4 expressly requires the “up to” dollar amount of a to appear in the certification of fund availability or elsewhere. They seek rule making that will close this loophole so that taxpayers in Parsippany-Troy Hills as well as those in other communities can promptly obtain accurate and complete information concerning public fund expenditures.”
Paff stated “Even if Parsippany-Troy Hills discloses the amount of EPIC’s contract during the pendency of this Petition, we believe that the requested rule amendment is necessary to ensure that similarly situated residents and taxpayers will, going forward, have prompt access to complete financial information regarding government contracts.”
Paff is requesting that an amendment to N.J.A.C. § 5:30-5.4(a) to require all Certifications of Available Funds to explicitly set forth the maximum dollar amount of the contract to be awarded.
To see the petition filed click here.
As of the date of this article, Epic Solutions, LLC is still providing “day to day financial consulting services to the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills.