PARKERSBURG - West Virginia University at Parkersburg has accepted nearly $60,000 worth of donations from vendors that routinely do business with the school and has violated state rules governing food service contracts, according to a state audit committee.
Officials with the college admit they made a mistake in handling the food service contract, but said no vendors were chosen based upon donations.
A report delivered Tuesday to the state Legislature says the school violated the West Virginia Constitution with a 2009 contract for food services that it failed to submit to the state attorney general. This contract wrongly commits the school to a $177,000 loan to vendor AVI Foodsystems. It will end up costing WVU-P nearly $236,000, according to the reporting.
West Virginia University at Parkersburg has accepted nearly $60,000 worth of donations from vendors that routinely do business with the school and has violated state rules governing food service contracts, according to a state audit committee. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
The audit also found that WVU-P has accepted nearly $60,000 worth of donations from vendors, including one such gift that apparently resulted from a vendor cutting a bid in half to win a flooring contract.
Officials with WVU-P issued a written statement Tuesday.
"When it came time to renew our contract with AVI Foodsystems, the bid included food services along with renovations to the kitchen and cafeteria areas. The agreement did not involve exchange of dollars but did include building renovations as profit to the college," according to the release. "Other institutions have made similar mistakes with this type of contract. WVU Parkersburg was unaware that it needed reviewed by the state attorney's office. In the end, the college received a much-needed update to the cafeteria which students are now enjoying on a daily basis."
Joe Campbell, president of the WVU-P Board of Governors, said it was a mistake.
"We had no idea those contracts were supposed to go before the (state) attorney general," he said. "We will adhere to any findings or guidance for the future."
The WVU-P statement also included information on the vendor donations.
"There are local people and businesses that are community-minded and want to give to the college and other organizations," according to the statement. "WVU Parkersburg does not discriminate when choosing vendors based on donations made. However, much of the quality programs and services provided to our students would not be possible without generous donations from those in the community."
When asked for clarification on the donations, spokeswoman Katie Wootton said only "these were products and services that were donated."
"I don't know the details on that," Campbell said, but added board members would ask to review all of the contracts and numbers cited in the audit.
Campbell also said a recently completed annual financial audit of the school, which will be submitted to the state agencies governing community colleges, found no issues or irregularities at WVU-P
In July, the college was accused by a legislative audit committee of avoiding competitive bidding to buy $1.2 million worth of computers and related gear,and also devoting at least $34,000 in taxpayer funds to train out-of-state workers, charges college officials denied.
Campbell said Tuesday's report was part of that audit.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.