DOVER – City council is calling on Mayor Richard Homrighausen to fire the superintendent of Dover's municipal power plant.
The call came Monday at a meeting of council's committee of the whole where members learned that Superintendent Dave Filippi had reportedly approved the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix two generators without council authorization.
The meeting was called to discuss $350,000 in cost overruns for repairs at the light plant made from the yearly shutdown last summer.
Filippi was invited to attend the meeting but did not attend. Assistant Superintendent Jason Hall came in his place to answer questions from council.
Breaking down the overruns
One of the cost overruns was for $199,350 to Sulzer Turbo in Houston. Hall said the city hired Sulzer to inspect the plant's steam turbine, which was built in 1967. The turbine was shipped to Texas, where the company found a lot of issues with it. The cost overrun was for labor and for the cost to ship it back to Dover.
"The work was authorized by Dave Filippi signing a letter to provide services without having the authority to enter into an agreement of such and allowed work to continue without adequate funds being encumbered to do the project," Auditor Nicole Stoldt said.
She said that was a violation of the Ohio Revised Code.
Council President Shane Gunnoe then questioned Hall about two other projects at the light plant.
Gunnoe said he learned through a public record request that the city was paying Orbital Energy Services in Illinois to test and inspect a 7.5-megawatt turbine that has not been used at the light plant since 1998. It was done without council's authorization or consent.
When questioned, Hall said the turbine had been in Illinois for several years. He did not know how much had been spent on the work, but the city has been paying one or two purchase orders a year for $20,000 or $25,000.
Gunnoe said he had seen all the purchase orders since 2018, and they amounted to roughly $100,000.
"Was council ever informed?" Gunnoe asked Hall.
"No, sir," Hall responded.
Homrighausen added, "It wasn't authorized by me."
Gunnoe then questioned Hall about work being done on a turbine that Dover purchased from the city of Shelby, Ohio, in 2016. Gunnoe said he recently learned that the turbine, which has never been used, has been shipped to Texas for the early stages of rebuilding without council's consent.
Hall said Dover owes close to $183,000 for the work done so far on the turbine.
"Who authorized to have that shipped to Texas?" asked Councilwoman Sandy Moss.
"Not me. It would be the guy over me, the superintendent," Hall answered.
Gunnoe said that Dover owes more than $350,000 for the cost overruns. It actually owes closer to $750,000 for work at the light plant.
"If somebody would spend their employer's money without authorization in any other place to the tune of $550,000 or $750,000, what would happen?" he asked Hall.
"They probably wouldn't be employed," Hall said.
Gunnoe then asked Hall if he thought Filippi should be fired.
Hall defended the superintendent, saying that Filippi has given his heart and soul to the light plant.
"That power plant, and I'm not trying to put down any former superintendent or assistant that's ever worked there, that power plant right now has never run as well as it has run now," he said.
"I give a lot of that credit to Dave Filippi, his foresight, his hard work, and what he's put into it. It cost money. Even if we weren't sitting here talking about this situation, it costs money to run that power plant."
The T-R has reported that Filippi has apparently taken a job with Mountain State Carbon of Follansbee, W.Va., a company that produces coke for making steel.
"Who is charge of the light plant now?" Councilman Kevin Korns asked.
Homrighausen said that Hall is. Hall added that Filippi had told him he would be on vacation until the end of the year.
Moss acknowledged that Filippi has done a great deal for the light plant, but she said council also has to think about what it's costing the taxpayers. She then called on Homrighausen to fire the superintendent.
Several other council members echoed her call.
Stoldt asked Homrighausen for his take on the situation.
"It's been a problem, but I can't deal with it unless I'm made aware of it," the mayor said.
Moss then asked Homrighausen how he feels about firing Filippi.
"I'm going to have to think on that," the mayor responded.