Investigation into AFB finds permit issues

An investigation launched last month by First Selectman Timothy Herbst has raised some concerns regarding proper permitting and inspections on school projects handled by AFB Management, the town facilities manager and owner’s representative on the high school.

Herbst said in January that he felt the investigation was necessary after media reports that AFB may not have followed proper oversight and inspections on a project in Stamford. (See original story)

Graham Bisset, the town building official sent a memo to Herbst Feb, 19, identifying 11 projects the building official said he had no records of permits or inspections for and another six projects that needed inspections for a certificate of occupancy. The investigation delved into the past 10 years. Projects included items like a boiler replacement at Tashua, new bleachers at Madison Middle School, filling pot holes, auditorium renovation at Trumbull High and masonry repairs for the district.

“I think it’s profound,” Herbst said. “This is repeat behavior, reported by mutiple municipalities. It needs to be addressed, especially when it comes to our school facilities and safety of our staff, students and teachers.”

Herbst said he has sent the information to Superintendent Gary Cialfi and the Board of Education, with his urging that the contract with AFB not be renewed in July.

AFB’s President and CEO, Al Barbarotta , a Trumbull resident, has vigorously defended his work in Trumbull and other municipalities, following Herbst’s call for an investigation. Barbarotta, who is suing Herbst for “tortious interference” in a business deal, claims Herbst is engaging in another “witch hunt” that is aiming to defame Barbarotta’s character.

Herbst said the investigation by Bissett says it all.

“The proof is in the pudding,” Herbst said.

While Herbst agreed the failure for proper permitting or inspections could have been an error made by other school employees, he said the overall responsibility rests on AFB’s shoulders.

“They lack an appropriate chain of command,” Herbst said of the facilities department. “If you aren’t going to do it, then you have to delegate it.”

Herbst said the investigation points out problems in the school facilities department. He said he is pleased to see the superintendent and board members exploring the use of a in-house, full-time employee for the role, rather than an outside vendor.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for a vendor to supervise unionized employees,” Herbst said.

Bisset has been working to remedy all permit and inspection issues, Herbst said.