Internal audit claims city was over-billed by equipment rental company

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An internal audit released by the City of Albuquerque claims the city was overcharged by an equipment rental company by more than $6,000, and now the city wants its money back.

According to the documents from the Office of Internal Audit, the city and Ahern Rentals entered into an agreement back in Spring 2015. The city rents machinery from Ahern for projects like electrical and water piping.

The city says it costs less to rent than to buy this equipment.

Over a year’s time, auditors say the city was overcharged by Ahern in fees, billing rates and was charged for equipment it never requested or used. Auditors sampled 18 of 58 invoices and claim to have found billing inaccuracies in all of them.

The audit was published a week ago, and auditors say Ahern still hasn’t responded.

KRQE News 13 called Ahern’s corporate number given it’s a nationwide company. We were passed around by a few people and eventually ended up at a voicemail. No one ever returned our call.

So, we went to the local shop at Candelaria near I-25. Without even a hello, KRQE News 13 reporter Madeline Schmitt was immediately handed an employee’s cellphone, which had a corporate lawyer on the other end.

“I was just made aware of this today, about 10 minutes ago, and so it’s not a situation where we completely ignored it or anything like that,” General Counsel Sami Bakdash said.

Bakdash said Ahern is now investigating the claims made in the internal audit.

“We’re taking it very seriously, and we’re going to cooperate with the City of Albuquerque,” he said.

The Mayor’s Office sent this statement to KRQE News 13 on the matter:

This audit found that this particular business had made technical violations that resulted in overbilling to the City in a modest amount of $6,300. We are committed to working with this company to negotiate a joint resolution for the reimbursement of these monies.” – Rhiannon Samuel

Ahern wasn’t the only one under the microscope. The city itself was also audited, and it was suggested that employees do a better job at making sure invoices are accurate before submitting payments to Ahern.

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