The Texas construction company hired to build Mayor Adams’ since-shuttered migrant tent camp overcharged the city more than $130,000 as part of a separate contract related to COVID-19 vaccination sites, according to a new audit from Comptroller Brad Lander’s office.
The $136,468 in overpayments happened because the company, Galveston-based SLSCO, on several occasions used inflated rates and double billed the Department of Emergency Management for operating city-owned vaccination sites, Lander’s team found as part of the audit.
The brunt of the overpayments — $129,000 — were issued because SLSCO charged the city for administering 150 COVID shots per day at its pop-up sites in June and July 2021 even though the capacity was 100 doses, according to Lander.
In addition to the overpayments, the contractor received $23,861 in payments from the city without providing proper documentation for the expenses, Lander found.
Spokespeople for Adams and SLSCO did not return requests for comment Wednesday.
Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Ashleigh Holmes noted that her agency‘s coronavirus vaccination contract was worth more than $400 million in total — and disputed the premise of Lander’s findings.
“(SLSCO) was not overpaid,” she said. “The amounts raised in the audit were initial payments which were reconciled during the standard contracting and payment process.”
But Lander wrote that the Emergency Management Department informed his office this past September that it agreed with his findings and would ask SLSCO to reimburse the full amount of overpayments uncovered by the audit.
As to the other issue, the department agreed to request missing documentation from SLSCO for about $10,000 of the undocumented spending, according to Lander.
The remaining chunk of uncorroborated costs related to a “flat rate set-up fee” that the department told Lander it did not need documentation for. Lander begged to differ.
“NYCEM’s disagreement notwithstanding, the auditors recommend that NYCEM enforce the terms of the License to Use Agreement and ensure that the amount is included in the Licensor’s first invoice, with supporting documentation,” his report stated, using an acronym for the department’s name.
The revelations about SLSCO’s overcharging come as questions remain about how much Adams’ administration has paid the company for building and breaking down its controversial migrant tent camp on Randalls Island.
The tent facility, which had capacity for 1,000 people, was ordered closed by Adams last week after having stood mostly empty since opening in mid-October due to a drop in Latin American asylum seekers arriving in the city as part of a wave of migrants coming up from the southern border that started this spring.
Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol told reporters during a tour of the facility last month that his agency had shelled out $325,000 to SLSCO just for building the Randalls camp. Iscol said the department paid SLSCO another $325,000 for first building the camp in the parking lot of the Bronx’s Orchard Beach before having to dismantle it and move it to Randalls due to flooding concerns.
Lander and the City Council have for weeks pressed Adams to provide receipts for the total price tag for the migrant tent operation. But so far, Adams’ team has balked at those requests.
A Lander spokeswoman said Wednesday that her office still had not received any contract the administration has issued to SLSCO for the tent camp job.
The Council is expected to hold two days of hearings next week on the administration’s migrant crisis response, with testimony expected from officials from the Emergency Management Department and other agencies. Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (D-Queens) is expected to chair the hearings, according to a source.