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New London - The city's attorney said this week that he is making progress on his investigation into the public works department's expenditures of more than $160,000 to rebuild the city's animal shelter after a tree fell through it during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Jeffrey T. Londregan, the city law director, said he has reviewed all invoices submitted for work performed on the animal shelter as well as 6,500 emails that contain key phrases such as "animal shelter" or "dog pound."
"I have started to line up interviews with public works employees as well as some of the contractors," Londregan told the council Monday night. "I hope to have those interviews wrapped up within the next week or so, and then obviously put the finishing touches on the report."
During a Jan. 13 Public Works Committee meeting, Councilors Michael Passero and Martin Olsen called for the state attorney general's office to investigate the animal shelter project.
The request for a state investigation failed to receive approval of the full council.
Passero questioned the way contractors were found and hired for the project, and why the City Council was not asked to approve any contracts. City ordinances require that a minimum of three bids be obtained for any contract of more than $3,000, and council approval for any work more than $20,000.
Public Works Director Tim Hanser explained to the committee that his department was the general contractor for the project and all the contractors were hired for jobs under $20,000.
Later in January, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio ordered Londregan to investigate all the contracts that were signed for the reconstruction. The mayor has said that Londregan's report will be made available to the public after it is reviewed and any action, if necessary, is taken.
Londregan said he is "trying to uncover everything" and hopes to present his final report to the council in the coming weeks.
"I believe the project was properly handled and was a savings to the city," said Council President Wade A. Hyslop, who voted against the request for an attorney general investigation, at the Jan. 13 meeting of the council's public works committee.
In addition to Passero and Olsen, Councilor Michael Tranchida supported the request. Councilors Erica Richardson, Efrain Dominguez, Anthony Nolan and Hyslop were opposed.