Lakeview Bridge Committee Presents Report

While "acting in the best interests of the Town," the report said, "Over the course of the Project, procedures were breeched, errors were made, and unwise choices were too common."

"The incurred the disapproval of New Canaan residents at a level not seen in recent decades," said the draft report reviewed by that, "led to the unauthorized payment of a $1.5 million cost overrun" on the project at a Special Meeting of the subcommittee held Wednesday, Oct. 26 in Town Hall. The report is the result of its investigations, including seven public meetings, conducted since its formation on May 23.

Citing "Decision Points" at which the project took "meaningful turns," the report states its intention, "to enable processes and protocols to be instituted that would protect the financial health of New Canaan."

The Decision Points identified by the committee and its "strongly made" Recommendations were:

  • The selection of Loureiro Contractors, Inc. (LCI) as project contractor with a bid of $1,161,756. with Federally funded, State administered reimbursement. Properly vetted? Clear understanding of State contract?

Recommendation: Establishment of a Public Works commission to ensure proper vetting and to, "aid in assessing the risks inherent in contracts with the State."

  • The use of the Capital and Nonrecurring Fund to account for costs.

Recommendation: Any capital project with funding from this account, be appropriated for the full cost with provisions for possible outside revenues.

  • Engagement of outside legal counsel without appropriate oversight.

Recommendation: The Town Attorney should be responsible for overview and management of all legal processes, including vetting and reviewing the work and billing from outside counsel.

  • December 2008 payment of legal bill from Capital Nonrecurring Fund.

Recommendation: Finance Dept. should be responsible for assuring communication and appropriation of extraordinary expenses; expansion of information presented to Selectmen.

  • Town Council's omission from "information flow" with Board of Finance.

Recommendation: Selectmen require inclusion of Town Council on legal matters.

  • Outside counsel's decision to request a deposition of LCI employee.

Recommendation: Again, the Town Attorney should be responsible for management of outside counsel.

  • Results of the arbitration were not made public.

Recommendation: Improved communications between Selectmen, Bd of Finance, Town Council and Executive Departments

  • The insertion in the agenda of the April Town Council meeting of the request for a bonding issue to cover arbitration award was not fully explained to Town Council Chair by CFO.

Recommendation: Improved communication

  • "Numerous and significant" sums of money were paid without proper procedures; responsibility for this oversight, while shared, "falls most heavily on the First Selectman."

Recommendation: Auditor or Audit Committee should assure compliance with rules to be established on guidelines and procedures for disbursement of Town funds with appropriate penalties for wrongful disbursement.

  • On Mar. 25 the arbitration award of $617,868 was paid to LCI from the Capital Nonrecurring account without an appropriation request, bring the total amount paid on the project from the Fund to more than $3 million.

Recommendation: Town Council formally approve all transfers into the Capital and Nonrecurring Fund as required by statute.

  • The Town decides to bond the amount of the arbitration award; approved by Board of Finance, but does not pass the Town Council.

Recommendation: Again, Town Council approval of all transfers.

  • The Town Treasurer took no part in the project as no bond funds were involved.

Recommendation: A review of the role of Town Treasurer.

In its conclusion, the committee warns that, "without significant safeguards firmly in place, these events could occur in another iteration, or simply 'in the future.'"

Town Council members of the subcommittee are, chair Kit Devereaux, Ken Campbell, Beth Jones and Tom O'Dea. In addition, Neil Budnick of the Board of Finance and Judge Russ Kimes, a New Canaan served as advisors.

A final draft of the report will be presented to the Town Council at a later date.

A copy of the report can be found on the Town website.

JAVA October 27, 2011 at 01:01 PM
Why do they keep refering to the selection of the Contractor? Read the arbitration award and it clearly points out that this was due to the Town and the Consulting Engineering firm. The Contractor was found correct on all matters in athe arbitration. Why is the contractor taking the hit for others incompetence.
Observer October 27, 2011 at 01:50 PM
A 1.5 million dollar "overrun" is not so hot. It wasn't like the contractor was rebuilding the Tappan Zee. It was a bridge over a creek, for goodness sakes. There shouldn't be that amount of variance.
Jon S. October 27, 2011 at 02:22 PM
- Town Council Chairman actively kept arbitration discussion out of the public eye and off of the Town Council agenda for weeks, potentially affecting a townwide referendum. Recommendation: Appoint/elect a different Town Council Chairman.
John Patrick Walsh October 27, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Roger Williams would be a terrific TC Chairman. He could fill the Foley "Voice of Reason" opening. It's the very least the TC members could do for Rob - and for the good people of New Canaan.
JAVA October 27, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Observer, the amount of the as you call it "variance" was due to poor plans by the engineer and poor oversite by the Department of Public Works. A contractor bids on what the plans and specs show. When the project is totally different than what was bid or eliments of the project, like the wires being moved so as not to interfer with work and then they are not moved that is not the contractors fault. Look at what the engineering company was paid for its services at a % of the project.
Rano October 27, 2011 at 03:06 PM
And that should have raised a serious red flag. When the report suggests that "If the Town chooses to retain the position of Treasurer as strictly ceremonial, a Deputy Treasurer could be appointed who would actually perform the internal control function" you know that there's a problem. We get the government we elect. "The town" in that sentence refers to the voters. The voters can help solve this by electing Kathleen Corbet, who has said exactly how she'll help everyone involved "perform internal control" functions when it comes to my money.
robert October 27, 2011 at 03:32 PM
poster child for government incompetance across the board. every last person involved should be fired or resign.
Larry October 27, 2011 at 03:54 PM
Roger Williams is a great idea for Town Council Chair. Enough of the "we know better than the people who elect us" arrogance of many "senior" members of the Town Council. Time for change.
heavens sake October 27, 2011 at 06:23 PM
Town attorney was asleep at the switch . Obviously he had responsibility to vet billing ,access effectiveness of legal services and responsibility for oversight of outside counsel, and to inform Town Finance committee and other Town officials of extraordinary charges with explanation and rational (especially if legal fees exceed disputed amount). So instead of sancture and blame, he is asked to do what he negleted to do. Sounds like a Semantic Snow Job.
Lisa Vasquez October 27, 2011 at 07:03 PM
Kathleen Corbet has had a professional career of nearly 30 years in the financial services industry in both the private sector and working for our community. She has the ability to contribute to the position of Treasurer and to provide important and necessary risk controls. Why wouldn't New Canaanites want someone of this caliber?
God Bless New Canaan October 27, 2011 at 07:34 PM
Probably time for some simple truths We have elected officers in our Selectmen and Council who work hard and long to do the best for our town. We have extraordinary people in the Finance, Public Works, along with the Town Attorney performing with excellence and dedication. But we have problems. The Bridge hearings indicate major shortcomings in oversight, and inter-departmental communications. We will always have contract problems requiring arbitration, and one side or the other will always lose. We lost this, with the supervision and post hearing notifications and payments completely out of the ordinary. This subcommittee has done an admirable job sorting out this mess and making clear and meaningfull recommendations. Their recommendations include increased oversight, the creation of a number of sub-committees, better inter-departmental notification, and a re-examinattion of the role of the Treasurer. The Treasurer must find a way within the current code and charter to fulfill the role our Town Fathers intended; An extra set of eyes making sure our budgeted dollars are spent correctly and as intended. Waiting for a Charter change isn't required and won't work. We need a Treasurer who will step up and take an active role.
S Tadik October 28, 2011 at 12:36 AM
STEVE KARL FOR TOWN COUNCIL CHAIRMAN Thanks for your idea, Jon S, you are right. While part of the tax and spend Parks & Recreation crowd, Steve is basically honest and experienced at chairing. There is a question of trust involved and since we have no recall capabilities, for now this is a good approach. DeWaele could resign as Chairman, too, if he wanted, for the good of the party. We can thank him for his service, too.
Neele Stichnoth October 28, 2011 at 02:28 AM
And now we are about to embark on a total reconstruction of Main St. at a cost of over $1,000,000, bid in a similar way as the bridge, without a fixed total contract price.
rough1 October 28, 2011 at 09:07 PM
It all starts with the First Selectman- certainly not the Treasurer; why do so many of you posters (no, maybe it's just a few but you keep posting the same bs about "Kathleen"!) think that all of sudden "an active treasurer" will fix everything? Why not let R. Mallozzi, N. Williams and B. Jones take over and do the fine job I am sure we all hope? Let's cut the layers of management, not add to it; and stop trying to create a job that simply is not there.
S Tadik October 28, 2011 at 10:19 PM
NEW TOWN COUNCIL CHAIR AFTER ELECTION A new Town Council Chair might fix stuff, too.
rough1 October 29, 2011 at 05:31 PM
Actaully, in my opinion, an elected Board of Finance and a new Town Council, ex. Mr. Roger Williams, would do it! The incompetence- that's being polite to some- not all-of the current Town Council members is mind-boggling. The current TC Chair should have the grace to step aside, or even out, much as Mr. Walker did for his very expensive lapses. Lastly, I honestly think some of our own staff fell short- certainly our attorney did.


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