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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Town Board to Announce a Plan on Water 14 Mess

This e-mail from town hall may open the door as to how the Conservative Party water contractor’s allies on the town board plan to “resolve” the overspent and mismanaged contract to build Water District 14.

"The Town Board of the Town of North Greenbush will be having a public participation meeting concerning possible resolution of Water District #14. It will be held on August 7, 2008 at 6:30PM at the North Greenbush Town Offices, 2 Douglas St, Wynantskill."

The contractor, Casale Excavating, won the contract for 6.4 million after the first round of bids were tossed because only two bids were received, (Casale was then the high bidder) and a new round of bids could be received. In Round 2, still only two bids were received but this time Casale was the low bidder. His new bid was some $800,000 more than the previous low bidder. Miraculously, the town board had no problem that only two bids were received this time and Casale won the contract.

Bonds were authorized to more than cover the construction price of 6.4 million, a cushion for unexpected changes, to 7.1 million. Then a funny thing happened on the way to the bank. All of the bond cushion was expended on top of the contract price and in fact was exceeded by $268,000 according to the audit of the State Comptroller. Casale still wants more than $700,000 to “finish” the work and many people cannot hook into the water, yet are forced to pay the nearly $400 a year bond for 30 years. The Conservative Supervisor claimed he did not know he was paying Casale more than his contract price even though he signed paperwork with running totals printed at the top left.

Casale has not worked much because there is no money to pay him but the town still pays an inspector from water funds more than $40,000 annually to supervise his work. Casale filed a Notice of Claim against the town and 7 months after his Conservative Party backed candidates took control of the town board, (Michael Casale is the town party Chairman), someone wants to discuss a “solution” to get the district finished and we presume pay Casale more money over his agreed to and stipulated bid price of 6.4 million.

There are several course of action on the Water District:

1)Pay him more from other town funds to avoid a new bond and a new voter referendum. This may not sit well with non Water 14 residents who would be forced to bail out the mess in a district they don’t live in.

2)Pay him more money from a new bond proposal and risk a voter backlash with a required permissive referendum.

3)Declare him in Breach, hire someone else to finish the work and litigate the contract interpretation in which he was paid extra without Change Orders in an effort to recover the funds paid to complete the work he refuses to complete under the 6.4 million dollar agreement.

Unofficial public preference, Option 3, by a landslide!

Just before the meeting there will be another meeting to award Casale the lease to the police station. No one did much of anything to get the town out from under this sweetheart lease in which taxpayers pay the taxes and insurance on the building plus a hefty rent increase.

"The Special Meeting of the North Greenbush Town Board on August 7, 2008 will begin at 5:45PM with an agenda item of - Authorizing Lease Agreement for the Police Station, the Public Participation meeting will follow as previously announced at 6:30PM."
We can hardly wait.

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