New trustees may target consultant’s $119-per-hour contract

Nov 13, 2017
Don Culp

Both of Miami Twp.’s two newly elected trustees are questioning the need for a part-time compliance officer who the township is paying $119.46 per hour.

“If the trustees and the administrator are doing their jobs, I don’t know why a compliance officer is necessary,” said John Morris, the top vote-getter in the election. “If in fact there is a need, why can’t we find someone local to do that?”

Mukesh Singh lives in the Columbus area and has a full-time job at the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation that paid him $90,535 in 2016, according to records obtained by the I-Team. In addition to the $119.46 per hour that he is getting paid by the township, he also qualifies for benefits as a part-time employee and is reimbursed for meals and a hotel when he stays overnight locally to attend meetings.

Last year, the township paid Singh $78,721. His contract calls for a minimum of 12 hours per week.

Singh did not return messages seeking comment. According to his LinkedIn page, he is a senior compliance officer at the BWC.

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Donald Culp, the other newcomer to the three-member board, funded a campaign mailer saying Singh’s contract is “poor judgment and mismanagement of our tax dollars.”

Although Morris and Culp will be in the majority when they take office in January, a vote to end Singh’s work for the township could be costly. The contract language says if he is terminated without cause, the township has to pay him a lump sum worth six months’ pay.

Douglas Barry, the only trustee not on the ballot last week, said Singh’s work for the township, while temporary, has been worth the investment to address problems that grew out of weak policies that persisted before the current trustees took office.

“This place was an absolute mess,” he said. “We were spending a whole lot of money on lawsuits.”

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“We had a problem,” he added, “and we needed to get it taken care of by a professional, and Mukesh has experience in that area.”

Culp’s mailer claimed Singh is under investigation by the Ohio Inspector General. This is not true, according to the state agency. The OIG confirms Culp made a complaint about Singh working the two jobs, but the issue was handed to BWC for an administrative review.

BWC officials say they have not completed any sort of internal review. In response to a public records request, the bureau provided his personnel file, which included a March 2014 form authorizing Singh’s outside work with the township.

Payroll and travel records obtained by the I-Team show Singh taking paid leave from his state job to travel for the township job. There is no prohibition against this, according to officials with Ohio auditor’s office.

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Singh describes his side job in the outside employment form as: “Ensure township in compliance with state and federal laws. Conduct audit.”

Singh was hired in the wake of a slew of concerns about the actions of township employees, including improper use of township computers and a deputy police chief hosing down a naked 17-year-old girl who had been pepper sprayed.

His contract calls for an hourly rate that is considerably higher than what he is being paid by the state.

“I don’t think it’s’ a good deal for the township,” Culp said in an interview before the election. “That’s ridiculous that a small township would be paying that kind of money for advice.”

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