The Carroll County Public Service Authority (PSA) has agreed with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s opinion that no conflict of interest exists in the Fancy Gap water and sewer projects. By agreeing with the decision, contractor for inspection services Nehemiah Engineering, Inc. should now be able to receive back payments as well as payments it had to pay back to the PSA, who in turn reimbursed federal funding agency Rural Development after a conflict was erroneously determined to exist by Franklin County Commonwealth’s Attorney Timothy Allen.
Six months after a differing opinion from Allen, Cuccinelli found no conflict of interest in elected Carroll County supervisor Joshua Hendrick working for a company providing inspections on the Fancy Gap projects.
Cuccinelli’s opinion was sought by Hendrick in an appeal after Allen found that Hendrick’s involvement with Nehemiah was a conflict of interest. Hendrick resigned from his position as Vice President of NEI two days after Allen’s opinion earlier this year.
An investigation into the matter was conducted by the Virginia State Police after Rural Development wrote the Carroll PSA a letter on April 16 stating that a conflict of interest may exist, and that it would stop disbursing inspection funds for the project until the conflict was resolved. Allen’s opinion was appealed to Cuccinelli, who wrote to Hendrick’s attorney Webster Day on Oct. 19 that it was his opinion that there was no conflict of interest.
“You ask whether an impermissible conflict of interests arises from serving as a member of the Carroll County Board of Supervisors while employed with a firm that holds a contract with the Carroll County Public Service Authority,” Cuccinelli wrote. “It is my opinion that no impermissible conflict of interests arises under the Act based on the facts presented.”
Based on Cuccinelli’s opinion, Carroll County PSA Chairman Tom Littrell revisited the matter at the Authority’s Nov. 15 meeting.
“We did have a case with implied conflict of interest in the spring involving us trying to come up with an opinion as directed by USDA, and that was sent to the Attorney General for an opinion and that overturned the local opinion,” Littrell said. “And so the Carroll County PSA does hereby accept Ken Cuccinell’s opinion that no impermissible conflict of interest arises as stated in the letter to Joshua on October 19.”
Littrell said the Authority has forwarded Cuccinelli’s opinion to Rural Development Area Director Travis Jackson. PSA Executive Director Gary Larrowe said Jackson has replied that he needs the PSA’s approval of the Attorney General’s opinion in order to move on with the inspection payments.
With that, Authority Member David Hutchins made a motion for the PSA to adopt the Attorney General’s opinion that no conflict of interest arises in the Hendrick case. Authority member Sam Dickson seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.