Series of Unfortunate (Budget) Events / by Alexander Schultz

Last week, Common Council passed a motion to adjust the Onedia Street bridge project budget with an additional $850,000 increase to cover unanticipated tipping fees for highly contaminated soils (15,000 tons of industrial contaminated fill that was placed, coincidentally, in the Bluff 1 site when we didn’t know any better) because the levels were higher than those allowed by the current dump site necessitating a re-routing of this bad soil to the County Landfill.

Two weeks before that, another unforeseen appropriation was voted on to remediate an outstanding services bill tied to the Expo center which, again, members of the Finance Committee and Common Council had little recourse to act upon, save negotiating a smaller arbitration amount.

It would seem in just these two circumstances that Finance Committee members had little opportunity to ask serious questions about why these discoveries are being made so late in the game when the projects are already well under way or already complete?

In the case of the soils issue, questions were left unasked. What are the alternatives? Are there other options to deal with soil contamination on site? Have other landfill sites been considered? Why weren’t these lead contamination figures provided earlier given our $300K contract with a firm to conduct soil studies and report findings before breaking ground?

Instead, under pressure of an on-going project, CC members were again forced to suck-it-up as yet another in a recent "series of unfortunate budgeting events” with the potential to add nearly $1M in debt with very little opportunity to consider alternatives.

We hope the City leadership begins to take notice that the Taxpayers are taking notice as many more Capital projects kick off in 2019.