Albuquerque city audit finds billing mess with portable toilet contractor

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It’s an important city contract that helps keep Albuquerque clean, and that city auditors say was being overpaid for months.  

The audit report recently released by Albuquerque’s Office of Internal Audit shows the city overpaid an estimated $1,192 to a local portable toilet company. 

ยท VIEW: City’s Final Audit Report ยป

ยท VIEW: Audit Report w/ Vendor’s Responses ยป

While the company has agreed to pay the city back for the claimed overcharging, the audit also points out poor practices by city employees who didn’t review inaccurate invoices before the bills were paid. 

The city counts on portable toilets for construction sites and large scale events, like the upcoming Freedom Fourth concert and fireworks show at Balloon Fiesta Park. 

According to city documents, the city signed a contract with “Fresh and Clean Portable Rooms Inc.” In August 2017. The Albuquerque-based business is headquartered off South Broadway near Rio Bravo Boulevard. 

In a review of the billing practices with the relatively new vendor, the city’s Office of Internal Audit found a series of issues. According to the audit, of 21 invoices randomly sampled, 17 of them inaccurate.  

Of the 17 invoices with issues, two invoices contained underbilling worth roughly $190. Fifteen invoices contained overbilling worth nearly $200.

From the data, the auditors estimated nearly $1,200 was overcharged to the city out of the total $35,000 spent in the on-demand contract thus far. 

KRQE News 13 spoke to the portable restroom company’s owner, Robert Medina, Tuesday afternoon.

Medina declined an interview, but said he felt the audit process was fair. 

Medina also told KRQE News 13 that he was committed to fixing any billing errors and that the company has since corrected bill rates in its system. 

The company also wrote the city a check worth $1,192 to reimburse the city for the total estimated overpayments. 

The city’s Office of Internal Audit declined KRQE News 13’s request for an interview.  

KRQE News 13 received the following statement from Albuquerque’s Mayor Tim Keller’s administration about the audit.  

“The internal audit office plays and important role reviewing select billing processes in the city to make sure they are accurate and fair. We prioritize local vendors and are pleased this one is working with the city on this issue.” 

–Sanjay Bhakta, Chief Financial Officer, City of Albuquerque. 

In it’s response to the city, Fresh & Clean Portable Restrooms also noted that city workers were often filling out incorrect, overly generic invoices to request portable bathrooms. 

The company also claims that the city is about four months late on many payments it should be making to the company. 

The city did not respond to those allegations in the final report. 

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