A township resident is being credited with persuading officials to find a creative way to reimburse taxpayers for funds lost after the disgraced engineering firm Birdsall Services Group.
“It was a very creative idea, and it looks like it’s panning out,” said Township Attorney Kevin Starkey, referring to the plan pushed by resident George Scott, who frequently speaks at township council meetings on municipal finance matters.
Starkey said that his office will be taking legal action directly against the former firm’s insurance carriers after getting an OK to do so by a judge.
In January, the township paid a $230,293 bill to Earle Asphalt Company for work on the stormwater basin at the former French’s Landfill site, which is now a solar field. The work was required because Birdsall, which served as the township’s primary engineering firm at the time plans for the landfill capping were created, erred in drawing up construction plans for the basin.
“In the first look we took at this, we were told that because it was a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there were no assets, so there would be no recovery,’ Starkey said at the time, but after Scott recommended going after the company’s insurance carrier, more research produced a possibility for the taxpayers to be reimbursed.
Once an engineering powerhouse with lucrative contracts across the state, Birdsall went bankrupt in 2013, shortly after numerous employees – including Scott MacFadden, the former Brick business administrator who went on to an executive position at the firm – helped the company skirt campaign finance laws by making personal donations to political candidates which were reimbursed through corporate accounts. Earlier this month, MacFadden pleaded guilty to a charge of misconduct by a corporate official in the case and will be sentenced to 364 days or less in the Ocean County Jail.
After virtually disappearing overnight and shutting its doors, the bankrupt company’s assets were purchased by Partner Engineering and Science, a California company. Previously, Starkey has said that the entity that purchased the assets does not take on the liabilities of the bankrupt company.