From: Bill Mudge
To: Standard Times et al
Sent: Sunday, November 03, 2002 6:54 PM
A letter I wrote criticizing the performance of the town council during the past several years of republican leadership was published in the Standard Times this past week. Also published, were Mr. Porter's and Mr Burnham'sresponded to my statements. I obviously disagree with their responses.
Please find below my comments to each of their rebuttals. I think you will find that they left much off the table.
Should you agree with me, I would hope you would vote for me.
I have done my honest best to articulate the correct facts. If you should question or not believe my comments you should vote for Mr. Porter and not for Bill Mudge.
Please consider voting for Tony Giarrusso for Town Council. He is a good man!
Best to All.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The following "Porter" remarks and "Mudge" responses are offered for your considered assessment.
Porter's remark regarding the explanation of the high school construction budget by Council President Burnham which appears separately. Suffice it to say, the contention of a $5 million or $7 million overrun is fiction.
Mudge Response: On Oct 27,1997 The N.K. Town Council voted "To authorize the School Department to proceed through the State Board of Regents for the bonding of the North Kingstown High School Building Project. The amount of said bonding shall not exceed 33,000,000."
Would Mr Porter or Mr Burnham informed the public why the Town Council rejected the high school building committee's project funding recommendation of $35,000,000. That's $2,000,000 less than requested. When did they know and when did they advise the public that they had decided to expand the scope of the project beyond the original $33,000,000 bonding amount.
Para 126.96.36.199.1 of the "signed" design contract states the "Amount of the Owner's budget for the project, including Architectural compensation, is $33,000,000.
Para 188.8.131.52.2 of the "signed" design contract with Saccoccio states the "Amount of the Owner's budget for the cost of work, excluding Architectural compensation is: Construcion-$22,468,220;Site/ISDS Constr-$1,000,000; Demolition-$1,031,780; Contengency-$2,500,000: Total $27,0000,000.
Porter's Remark regarding the hiring of the architect: the decision to hire the highest qualifying architect, according to state law, was based on the unanimous recommendation of the staff and citizens committee.
Mudge Response: The high bidder, Saccoccio Assoc., comparative design bid was over $700K more than one of offered by a premier Rhode Island Architectural Firm(Robinson, Green & Beretta). The below remarks are taken from an e-mail sent to me on 11/19/2001 by Mr. Kerbel in response to questions/concerns I had about the high bidder (Saccossia Assoc.) being awarded the HS design contract.
Mudge Question - Was cost a factor in awarding the architectural contract?
Kerbel Answer - Yes, but we judged all the criteria and the selected firm was the best fit for the job in our opinion.
Mudge Question - There are no records to show that the architect's selection committee considered all selection criteria noted in the Request for Proposal when they evaluated the three final candidates for the contract award. I am particularly concerned that there is no record of decision that indicates the committee reviewed or considered item 11.1-C, page P5-14, the "total cost of the proposal".
Kerbel Answer - Since the consultant selection advisory committee was only an "in-house" advisory committee and not the elected body that would make the decision they are not subject to the open meetings law. Also, they do not have to keep meeting minutes. We then interviewed the final three firms and somewhat unanimously agreed the joint venture of Saccoccio and Goody Clancy was the best.
Porter's remark regarding High School completeness. The high school is complete. The contractor is finishing up our punch list.
Mudge Response: Didn't the town council recently authorize close to $200,000 for additional work. Isn't it correct that there are many, many items remaining to be completed from the punch list that exceeded $1M? When is the HVAC system going to be certified and operationally tested to the buildings plan and specifications? There is a serious heating and ventilation problem at the HS that needs to be addressed? Ask any student or teacher.
Porter's remark regarding "Mismanagement." Both the state office and outside auditors have found no irregularities in the management of the' high school project.
Mudge Response: The Attorney General's office reported they found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing; they did not speak to violations of state or town policy and regulations.
With respect to the auditors it should be made clear an audit was not performed. Essentially, the "auditors" attempted to report where the funds were spent and where the funding came from. However, I do agree with Mr Porter's comment that the auditors reported that they "found no irregularities". During a town council meeting, which was attended by Mr. Porter, I severely criticized the auditors for their inappropriate finding of "no irregularities" when Exhibit "D" of their of report details a quid pro quo arrangement between the construction contractor and the school department.
I also noted that there was a $20,000 check paid to a firm that did not a have contract with the town. Also, the so call auditors did not account for all the revenues the town received for the building equipments and furnishings (and computers) that were salvaged.
The auditors never addressed or made an assessment of what was "planned" to be built and what we got! (See parking comments as an examle).
Are these the same auditors that did not account for or reveal over $3,000,000 of Medicaid revenues coming into the school department? Maybe quid pro quo deals and Enron accounting procedures have become legal in the school department.
Had a true audit been performed maybe the fact that Saccoccio's hourly fee was increased by over 40% from what he submitted in his design bid. Saccoccio submitted a bid with an hourly rate of between $100 and $135, yet Mr Kerbel nicely increased this to $142 and $205 when he signed the design contract??
Porter's remark regarding School Capital Fund. The decision to use the school capital fund was part of the planned funding of the high school project, agreed to after full discussion in public session. We did not shortchange the maintenance budgets of the other schools. Using these funds entitled us to 30 percent state reimbursement.
Mudge Response: Could this be the reason that the Town council reduced the project funding by $2,000,000. I have seen no documentation or evidence that the school building committee's request for $35,000,000 would be supplemented with additional school capital funding. When was this decision made and when was the public informed? To the best of my knowledge, there was never an article in any paper that recorded the fact that town council planned to increase the scope of work beyond the $33,000,000 and would do so by taking money out of the School's Capital Budget at he expense of our other school's repair/maintenance plans.
Using bond funds also entitled us to a state reimbursement of 30%. However we will not get 30% state funding for all the cost associated with the high school project. In fact, we will loose ten's of thousands of dollars of state aid because of the $5-7M overrun.
Porter's remark regarding Trataros selection. As David Burnham points out, Trataros' bid was $800,000 less than the next bidder. The Council thought this spread was significant and selected Trataros. In any case, the town was required by law to select the lowest bidder.
Mudge Response: Great, then why did the high bidder for the design contract get selected when his comparative bid was more that $700,000 over that of one of the finest and well known architectural firms in Rhode Island?
Porter's remark regarding the chemistry labs. I fail to understand the complaint about the chemistry labs. They are complete and we hear nothing but praise of them.
Mudge Response: Visit the chem labs and speak with the staff and students. I did! The solution to correct a major ventilation problem in the labs was recently resolved by putting in noisy window fans. Unbelievable!!
Porter's remark regarding the sports practice fields. The old fields did have lighting furnished by the Boosters some years ago. Neither lights nor irrigation were included in the design of the practice fields. We are adding irrigation to the practice fields as the best way to protect our investment, in the new fields. Maybe the Boosters will come through again with' lights.
Mudge Response: Yes, the Booster's Club in collaboration with the NK Pop Warner league raised the money for the lighting at the old high school and I was a member of that team. What Mr. Porter did not revel is that we in 1996 the taxpayers passed a $2,300,000 bond to upgrade the high school and middle school athletic fields and gyms. Included in the bond request were $150,000 and $62,000 respectively to replace the lighting at high school and add sprinkler systems for the baseball, softball and practice fields. In addition, there was over $160,000 of other items that were not accomplished including the construction of a much need home and visitor's locker rooms.
Porter's remark regarding parking spaces. The 600 plus or minus parking spaces at the school conform to the plans reviewed and approved by the town.
Mudge Response: Plans submitted and budgeted by the school building committee included much-needed parking space for 600 cars. Why were they eliminated during the design phase and who authorized the reduction?
Porter's remark regarding about Wickford Middle School irrigation. The school department and the athletic director made the determination to use athletic bond funds for irrigation of the high school fields. Wickford Middle received bond funding for upgrades to their gym.
Mudge Response: Since when does the school department have the authority to deviated from the provisions of the school bond. It's outrageous that Mr. Porter would single out the Athletic Director as the decision maker for misdirecting the expenditure bond monies.
Dugouts, backstops, fencing and a sprinkler system were all included in the bond issue for Wickford Middle School, but they are conspicuous by their absence. Yes, a new synthetic basketball floor was installed at Wickford Middle School. Ask any doctor, coach, or parent of a basketball player why a wood floor, for which $100,000 was appropriated, should not be installed (knees). Davisville Middle School had its would floor installed at the insistence of the physical education staff, but not WMS. The often given excuse it could not be done is disingenuous at best.
Porter's remark regarding $35 million vs. $33 million. Prior to my election in 1998, the, Council reduced the number of classrooms and the auditorium from 1600 to 800 seats. It was felt that the school population estimates did not confirm the need for the larger building.
Mudge Response: Wrong again, the majority of the funding reduction can be readily attributed to the elimination of $1,552,500 for a new Central Administration building for the superintendent of schools.
Porter's remark regarding overspending by 3 million. The method for accounting for federal reimbursement for special education has been approved by the town auditors. Overspending is a fiction.
Mudge Response: Did Mr Porter read the 1998 Bacon & Edge report that disagrees with his conclusion that the current accountants approved this Enron accounting practice. The fact of the matter is that the receipt of over $3,000,000 of Medicaid revenue has not been audited by anyone. Can Mr Porter explain why South Kingstown, Narragansett, Jamestown and Coventry all include the anticipated receipt Medicaid revenues in the budget presentation to their taxpayers?
Porter's summary, contrary to accusations of mismanagement, the Town Council has been careful of its decisions, conscious of spending the' citizens' taxes responsibly. Decisions on the high school were made unanimously, as they were in the port fight, after careful and public discussions. I stand by the Council decisions made during my four years on the Council. I believe the Republican led councils over the past 10 years have given good and responsible leadership to North Kingstown.
Mudge Response: Think, vote people and community not party.
Mr Burnham remark regarding $33 million was for construction (both for actual construction and design and inspection services).
Mudge Response: See comments above.
Mr Burnham remark regarding $3.4 million was for debt service, which would be required for a $33 million bond. These expenses were offset by the investment earnings;
Mudge Response: Yes this is correct, but was not said is that our taxes had been increased a couple of years ago to get us over the initial school debt funding shock. Also, the reason we took in so much money is because of the interest rates and then fact that our anticipated bond interest rate was much lower than expect. Mr Burnham didn't explain why we sent money to the Federal Treasury because of the arbitrage assessment against the town. All this aside we knew that we were going to make a lot money on the bond issue, and therefore instead of staying within the $33,000,000 budget and lowering taxes, the town council decided to pour all of the surplus into the new school. The truth is they did so with out consulting the taxpayers.
Mr Burnham remark regarding $290,000 was for concession stands and restrooms relating to the new athletic field that was approved by the voters in 1996;
Mudge Response: This is true, but what happened to all the other projects that were to be funded by the 1996 bond issue.(See comments above)
Mr Burnham remark regarding $341,000 was for contaminated soil removal which would have been required whenever it was found (this was funded by the self insurance fund set aside for just this purpose).
Mudge Response: Any good design or construction manager would agree that you should have at least 5% of the estimated construction cost reserved for contingencies such as the soil contamination. What happened to the $1,250,000(See above) that should have been set aside for construction?
Mr Burnham remark regarding $1,040 million was for the sewerage disposal system, which was in need of replacement from the old high school (this was funded from the School Capital Reserve Fund. There have been annual appropriations to this fund for the last nine years)
Mudge Response: Over $1M was budget for site and ISDS work. So why in early 2000 did we have to take $1M from the school capital fund that left no monies available to effect improvements in the other schools. Was Davisville Elementary not in need of repair?
Mr Burnham remark regarding $366,000 for furniture and equipment. (This was funded from the School Operating Budget. The voters have affirmed the Town Council adopted budget the past two years) and
Mudge Response: This contradicts Dr. Halley's statement made at a school committee meeting that school operating funds were not used to supplement the high school project. I remind you that the primary reason for closing Fishing Cove School was a lack of $275,000.
Mr Burnham remark regarding $63,000 for energy efficient lighting funded by a rebate in the amount from Narragansett Electric.
Mudge Response: Everyone in the design and construction field knows that there is a lighting reimbursement program which rewards a builder to utilized approved energy efficient devices. This is not a big deal in a since of finances, except it adds to the overall conclusion that the managers of the taxpayers were cognizant of the fact that certain unidentified funding would flow town into the town because on the school project and they would go ahead and spent it without consulting the taxpayer.
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