Wednesday, September 09, 2009

What roads are going to be improved with the $1,000,000? Don't ask me. I'm not allowed to know.

As I mentioned last night, here is staff's explanation on why the taxpayers cannot be informed which roads would be paved if the $1,000,000 passes at referendum:

A year ago, I opined on an alternative to the town's Pavement Management System (see here and here). And I say it again now...

using staff's recommendations, the Council should vote to establish the criteria used in prioritizing improvements to roads (along with sidewalks, curbs and perhaps tree trimming)... then the Council should set the budget (subject to voter approval at referendum) and there should be no deviation from those lists unless there is an emergency.

Last year, Chairman Hall even agreed with me that this was a worthwhile discussion. Too bad he referred it to the Planning Committee where it's languished for a year. I'm just so tired of the nonsense in the DPW. It has got to stop.

And for the record, IMO the lack of disclosure is due to the Rubber Stamp failing to direct staff to address this. I mean, doesn't it stand to reason that you would know 90% of the roads to be improved next year? Isn't that why we wasted spent $50,000 on PMS?

55 days and counting...

Tim White


Anonymous said...

So our TM is saying that between now and February, hat list can change "dramatically".
So why did we spend the $50K???

Anonymous said...

The TM is practicing some really weird logic. He knows the answer but is uncomfortable with it because maybe something could change in the future which would at that point change his answer.

Maybe the TM should report monthly or quarterly on the list of roads to be repaired? This would solve his contrived problem of future changes not being recognized in the present.

Voters and tax payers are hard pressed to vote YES on any referendum item the TM might support having done if he can't say definitively what needs to be done.

ConfusedBreachway said...

I am already leaning towards a NO vote for this reason....what do you mean you don't know what roads will be do you put a $1 million price tag out there w/o knowing....why not 750k or 900k or 1.25 million? I guess I have been in the corporate world too long. Could you imagine sitting in a budget meeting and requesting $1 million for systems upgrades...and when they ask you what systems, you tell them you don't know yet.

Anonymous said...

Breachway is right

Anonymous said...

It is like going out on the Town, knowing your going to spend some given amount on a hooker that evening. The only problem is when you leave the house you don't know who the lucky lady will be because you have not seen her yet.

Anonymous said...

Truth be known--I bet the TM doesn't know the costs--he'll just keep paving until the money runs out....maybe after 3 roads or 10 roads...

Anonymous said...

I decided to research this road paving system we have and I can't seem to figure it out. Perhaps you can help.
This year, beginning in August and going through the Fall, Tilcon will be "paving" 26 roads in this town according to the Public Works web site. They didn't break it down the way the PMS did like "Preventive Maintenance", "Mill & Overlay", "Reclaim", etc. So I am assuming it was just basic paving.
Do you know what was budgeted for this years paving? Do you know what Tilcon is charging?

I decided to see what the PMS said for each of these roads and what the costs would be, and here is what I found out:

26 Roads paved

PMS said that:

14 roads needed "reclaim"(included in that number is part of Oregon Rd.)

1 road needed "preventitive maintenance"

9 roads needed "mill & overlay"

2 roads needed "routine maintenance" (included the other part of Oregon Rd. and part of Old Lane)

2 roads had "do nothing" (part of Old Lane and Orchard Hill)

My question is how did they determine why these roads needed paving over the others?

Why did they pave 2 roads that the PMS said "do nothing"?

This is an entire mess and until the TM or the public works department can explain how therse are prioritized, then I would urge everyone to think twice before voting for this referendum.

The total costs, accordig to the PMS, to repair the 26 roads would be $1,720,047.(Includes $0 for part of Old Land and Orchard Hill) Was this amount budgeted for this year?

Are the costs that the PMS come up with accurate?To what percentage?

That is a lot of money to be throwing around, especially if we are paving roads that don't need it according to our $50K softwarre.


Anonymous said...

Anon 12:58....perfect analogy. I am voting "No" on this until we get some clear answers.

Anonymous said...

I want everyone on this post to stop worrying whose road gets paved and start watching USD Index. You will not give a rats ass if your road gets paved or not.

Anonymous said...

The TM's answer is a classic. What he meant was "I don't want to tell you". As with any list, the priorities are always changing and the list is fluid. Your answer should have been, "I know it can change, I want to know what it looks like right now. And if it would ease your mind, add a footnote that the list is subject to change without advanced notice."

Tim White said...

Do you know what was budgeted for this years paving?

$1,300,000 passed at referendum last year.

Do you know what Tilcon is charging?

No. But I don't know what most vendors in charge the town. I presume the controls (bidding the job, then auditing the numbers) in place are working in that respect.

Why did they pave 2 roads that the PMS said "do nothing"?

Storm drains were installed... similar to Winthrop getting new water mains.

Was this amount budgeted for this year?

See above, also consider that the chip seal work is less expensive than repaving. I think the TM gave some explanation of that nature on Tuesday.

Are the costs that the PMS come up with accurate?To what percentage?

I'm not an engineer, so I can't answer those questions knowledgably. But please keep in mind that I voted against the $50k for PMS.

Regardless, I still believe that the Council should simply determine the criteria used to prioritize roads (I thought the PMS Consultant was supposed to do this), then set the amount to be spent on various types of road improvement (say $800,000 on paving & $200,000 on sealing) and let the DPW do their job.

As I see it, the $50,000 we spent on a consultant still hasn't helped us take the appearance of possible favoritism out of the process. The reality is that the Council (or staff) could still be steering work to various places as payback for something or other.

Do I think that's the case?


But I think the lack of information leaves any reasonable person wondering what's happening and why.

Tim White said...

Your answer should have been

While sitting there I usually make a judgment call... "If I ask a followup question, will I then get an answer? Or will I get another non-answer? Only to be followed by the Chairman telling me that I'm not allowed to ask such questions?" (He's done it before.)

In this case, I had previously asked about this (off camera) and expected I would get another non-answer. So I wasn't really expecting an answer (though I would've loved one). It was really more a use of the bully pulpit, letting taxpayers at home know that the PMS didn't really make any sense.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the answers Tim.
just a few more questions though.

If we budgeted $1.3 million for this year, and PMS said is would cost $1.7 million to do the same roads, doesn't that tell you that it isn't that accurat? Or did we go over budget? Thats about 24% more than what was budgeted, and they had "do nothing" on 2 roads.

Who and how did they determine to fix these 26 roads? Perhaps that is where we may get the answer for what they will do in the future.

Isn't the town manager basically saying that the PMS is not accurate since the condition of the roads change over a matter of time?

If the plows dig up a specific road, then that may be one that needs to get done before they fix the ones with spider cracks.

Isn't it that simple? I can do that for a lot less than $50K

The Public Works site did not differentiate what roads were getting repaired versus what roads were being completely re-paved, so it was hard to determine exacly what was being done.

This is quite ridiculous!

I think the TM needs to explain the process to the voters if he truly wants them to vote in favor of the referendum, otherwise I will be voting no.

Tim White said...

As I've said, I voted against it. The PMS is a symptom. We need to address the cause. As such, I voted against extending the TMs contract this year.

The PMS is a simply masking a bigger problem. And as I've been saying, I hope the voters agree with me... and send at least five people to the Council who are willing to address... recognizing their purpose is to serve the voters... not be pals with staff.

Anonymous said...

Just as the money disappeared from the P.W. garage addition account, so too will some of this money. Some will get spent on other things, nothing to do with paving!

Anonymous said...

"If the plows dig up a specific road, then that may be one that needs to get done before they fix the ones with spider cracks. "

Interesting to think that first we'd have roads which don't stand up to normal snow plow use. From there it is interesting to think maybe the plow equipment could be optimized better to limit damage. Finally, if the plow drivers have not been adequately trained and are not adequately supervised no doubt plow damage like that seen in town will continue to occur.

Roads being damaged through routine maintenance activities such as snow plowing should normally be unacceptable. If it happens the repair costs should be identified as having been created through a routine maintenance activity.

Anonymous said...

All this talk about PMS is giving me the cramps.