About the only thing apparent from last night's expose on the continued mismanagement of Water District 14 is that no one in town hall really has a grasp on how to administer and manage such a project. This includes the Town Supervisor who merrily signed off on Applications for Payment such as the one shown here, which clearly informed him that the contract and bond for the district were being exceeded. Yet he not only did not inform the rest of the town board of the financial status of the district, he added to the mess by personally issuing a check for about $83,000 last December after all were fully aware that there was no more bond money to spend. Despite the proof in the pudding, Mr. Evers, last night and always, blames the former comptroller for his own failures as Supervisor. He is a man clearly overwhelmed by a job requiring common sense, respect for the rule of law and honest communication with fellow board members, legal staff and employees.
The finger pointing between the folks administering the contract was evident as a question was asked by a Board member, "Who is is now in charge of this contract?" And the answer, well, no one wanted to say "me".
The problem now involves incompetence which is more easily defined than before. The town's contract engineer, Tom Murley, who incidentally is still getting free town health insurance for life with just over 5 years of service on the town payroll, provided numbers to the legal staff to determine the amount of money that would be needed to "FINISH" the district. Trouble is the numbers appear to have been wrong and if the right numbers were used, the town would need another $80,000 more than the settlement price to really finish the never ending contract.
Mr. Murley says he got those numbers from employees in the Building Department, including the Utility Inspector who got a bit huffy and insubordinate with Board members trying to question him about the contract and how the numbers were arrived at. Here's a guy with no civil service protection at all whose only job is to monitor and approve the work of the contractor in Water 14. The position is supposed to be temporary during construction which was halted for over a year. Yet his salary continued to flow from the Water District's budget and bonds. He was sure in no position to thumb his nose at his employers as he did last night by walking away from the microphone and refusing to answer their questions.
It was also revealed that the employees in the Building Department were told to stay out of the negotiations but exactly who told them to stay out was never revealed. The irony of being told not to get involved and then asked to explain why the wrong information was given to the town's attorneys as to settlement costs was a poor reflection on the Board itself.
The other great irony arising out of the meeting was how much Lou Desso and Al Spain are adopting the recommendations and logic of Democratic Chairman Dan Ashley. From insurance buyouts to the incompetent management of the water contract, these opponents of Ashley have become his voice for change. It's also clear that County Republicans who back Lou Desso as GOP candidate for legislature next year are giving advice and steering the ship for him to minimize the liability of both the insurance and water district issues. But it isn't enough to pass a law or complain about a contract or some one's performance. You have to enforce what you say and so far as we know, all those folks who should not be on that town insurance policy are still getting the benefit at taxpayer expense. And all the folks who can't manage a contract are still proving they can demonstrate little performance while keeping a job requiring abilities beyond their pay grades.
The Troy Record has an article about this latest boondoggle which you can read here.