In 2002, the Town of Newstead had a Capital Project to build a Highway Garage. In short, town officials didn’t properly inform residents as to expected costs and didn’t properly manage cost overruns. There were $802,217 in cost overruns. $438,000 for additions to the Project that were not in keeping with the original project scope and/or original bid specifications. Change orders that increased costs by nearly $558,000 were never approved by the Board.
The 2002 state audit of Evans documented improper out-of-town spending. After 2002, the town had one credit card account used by all employees. At the very least, the auditors should have looked at reimbursements to employees vs charges on credit cards. Why didn’t the state audit Evans back to 2002 like they did in Newstead?
The state limited its audit of Evans to the $16,000,000 water project. Auditors were given documents showing the town was writing hundreds of manual checks and not using the computerized payables check writing system. Was this a second set of books? Was this how $2,100,000 gets labeled “unaccounted for”? Towns surrounding Evans asked their residents how their water system could be improved and if they felt cost was affordable. The Evans water project was approve with no public hearings, just an informational meeting to present the project to residents. A list of improvements and their projected costs. Residents don’t know if or how many improvements were removed from project to hide improper spending and cost overruns. The state auditors report should have included the fact that most of the recommendations implemented as part of the water project came from Wendel Engineers who was paid millions in engineering fees. The town didn’t hire an “expert” whose task should have been to look out for Evans Taxpayers. Two engineers, both Evans residents, offered to assist town with engineering decisions. Their offer was declined by town officials. Roads were built as part of the project. One of the engineers works for Erie County Highway! The state auditors made recommendations to Newstead regarding competitive bidding. (See #6) Wendel Engineers was paid maybe millions in engineering fees. While not illegal, the amount suggests that many engineering firms would have submitted bids. Since the audit didn’t look at non-water project spending, questionable spending continues in 2013. The assessment services with North Collins costs taxpayers about $9,000 more that the $25,000 received. If you want to lease the restaurant in the basement of the Brant Town Hall, expect to pay about $6,000 a year. The town just voted to approve a one bid contract for a waterfront restaurant to the family of former Deputy Supervisor Karen Erickson for $3,500 a year!
The water tower project includes building a two lane $50,000 road on private property which may include curbs and sidewalks! The above picture shows that someone figured out how to get and park over 600 cars on the runway. It’s likely the cars were loaded/unloaded from car carriers directly on the runway. How can town officials say an access road is needed? The state constitution makes gifts of taxpayers money to private property owners illegal. Improvements are being made to Ralph Wilson Stadium. The stadium is county owned and leased to the Buffalo Bills. Big difference legally. At the 3-20-2013 town board meeting, before the board voted to approve paying Wendel Engineers another $276,400, the board took offence to the suggestion that a town engineer could be hired for three years for this and work on water and all other projects for what they were paying Wendel for just one project. State auditors should request an office in Evans Town Hall and take up permanent residence. Town officials, for unexplained reasons, continue making same mistakes they criticize past boards for making. The one common denominator is that Evans Taxpayers are asked to pick up the bills including paying !