The Auburn Trail projects are spending taxpayer money like it's free.    It's not.
Residents have been led to believe there is no taxpayer cost, since the town applied for, and was awarded Federal Grants.  These 'grants' require substantial financial commitment by Victor's taxpayers in order to receive federal funds.  They are far from free.

 These DISCRETIONARY trail "improvement" projects are costing Victor taxpayers dearly - at a time when the 2010 budget was cut and the Town's reserve funds were tapped to keep the tax rate steady. 
   

Fiscal Responsibility

This draft Newsletter, produced by the Town's consultant and obtained by Freedom of Information Law implies that there is NO COST to Victor Taxpayers because the town secured a federal grant, while neglecting to mention the local taxpayer share.  It is MISLEADING and DECEPTIVE. (Click to view.)

Original Auburn Trail Project (2002 - ???)   
After federal reimbursements
Victor Taxpayers Pay:                    $333,500
Federal Funds:                                      $1,070,100 

Auburn Trail Extension Project (2007 - ???)
After federal reimbursements
Victor Taxpayers Pay:                    $265,500 
Federal Funds:                                         $619,500


These projects are directly costing Victor taxpayers at least $600,000 - that's $150 per household.  And likely more than that.


The actual costs of this project could be even higher.
The major cost in the Auburn Trail Extension project is the repair of a damaged culvert and bridge crossing Irondequoit Creek.  The original projected cost, in 2006, was $215,000.  The actual cost, now 4 years later, could be significantly higher - any costs over budget would be borne 100% by taxpayers.  The Town released a Draft Design Report in April 2010 - yet still does NOT include plans or estimates for the culvert repair, claiming it will be decided in the "final" report.  Why the secrecy - $300,000 have been paid to Fisher Associates for "engineering design services" yet there is no plan or design shown for the culvert.



The photo at right shows a completed section of the first Auburn Trail project.  This is the "trail improvement" that our tax dollars have bought.  

Many users believe the natural feeling of the original trail, from Fishers to Farmington,  has been destroyed in building this stonedust road, at substantial taxpayer cost.  Many other taxpayers are not even trail users. 

Is this how you want more of your taxes spent for the Extension project?






Victor Picks up the Tab

This project is no partnership with Pittsford or Perinton - both Towns told Victor that it could build the trail as long as Victor did all the work, and paid all the costs.  
 
Cost for Auburn Trail Extension in Pittsford and Perinton (prorated):  
$161,955  (18.3% of $885,000 cost).  

Cost to Victor taxpayers  for a trail in Monroe County
 $48,587 (30% of total).
 
View Grant Financials for more info.
Auburn Trail Extension Project: Taxpayer Costs and Consultant Fees.
This 2 1/2 mile trail is proposed to run from Fishers to Powder Mill Park  - including parts of the Towns of Perinton and Pittsford - right through a highly sensitive environmental area.
Although nearly 20% of the Auburn Trail Extension Project is in Pittsford and Perinton, Victor's Taxpayers are paying the contract and construction costs for all the work done in those Towns.   
 
 

 
Although there have been numerous delays and missteps, 
the consultants are doing quite well.   


 

Ballooning Consultant Fees

Fisher Associates was chosen for the Extension Project because of its familiarity with the first Auburn Trail project. In its application for the Extension, Fisher promoted itself as coming in "under budget" on the first project. Fisher has since negotiated several supplemental agreements with the Town Board, and are now 30% OVER budget on the first Auburn Trail project. This project began in 2002, and  it's still not finished.

First Auburn Trail Project
Original Contracts:
Engineering & Design:       $289,901
Construction Inspection:    $90,000
Original Total:               $379,901

5 Additional Supplemental Construction Inspection
Contracts:                           $162,922 

Total Current
Contract Amounts:      $542,822
(Invoices to date:)             $512,804

The Supplemental Contract amounts for the Extension Project haven't yet been determined.   But the cost overruns in the first Auburn should alert taxpayers what to expect.
1.) $220,00o already Invoiced. Despite substantial project delays caused by not doing its due diligence, Fisher Associates, has invoiced the Town for over $220,000 for the Auburn Trail Extension. Fisher has already received over $500,000  on the first Auburn Trail project,  30% over its original contracted amounts. See "Ballooning Consultant Fees".

2.) Design Engineering costs have doubled from $158,000 to $318,000.  These pre-construction engineering costs are now over 69% of projected construction costs - way out of line for this type of project (high end is typically 25% of construction.)  Yet the Town Board votes for every increase recommended by Parks and Rec.

 June 2006
$158,125   
Design Engineering cost listed in Original Grant Application submitted by Victor and approved by Federal Highway.
 Sept. 2007
$229,000
Design Engineering increase approved by Victor Town Board, in a contract with Fisher Associates.  
This additional $71,000 went to the consultant - before work had even begun.   Read the Parks and Rec Director's justification for this below.
 May 2009
$318,000
The Town Board authorized an additional $89,000 for Fisher Associates, for "Design Engineering." Fisher stated this was for "out of scope" work.  See Accountability below.

3.) More Fees to Come:  Construction Inspection & Support.    As noted in the text box (Ballooning Consultant Fees)  billings for "construction inspection" have supplied an additional $252,922 for Fisher Associates on the first Auburn Project. "Construction Inspection" is yet to be negotiated for the Extension Project.  Given the ballooning consultant fees on this budget line in the first Auburn project, taxpayers need to watch this carefully as the Town Board considers more "Supplemental Agreements."  [Original Auburn Trail Construction Inspection Invoice #20 - Sept. 28, 2009]


A Consultant's Million Dollar Take

Fisher Associates Contracts with Town of Victor for the Auburn Trail:

$542,822 - Original Auburn Trail Project Contract - as of 10/09. 

$318,000 - Auburn Trail Extension:  Design Engineering -  as of 10/09.

<$250,000> - Auburn Trail Extension: Construction Inspection (An estimate based on actual supplemental contracts for Construction Inspection in the Original Auburn Project) 

That's $1,100,822 - Over a million dollars.  
Not a bad job if you can get it.
4.) Victor is paying 2 consultants.  Why are two major consultants needed for this project, when only one, Fisher Associates, was used on the original Auburn Trail project? Fisher has  contracted over 35% of the engineering fees - $112,819 -  to another engineering firm, McFarland Johnson. 

The DOT project liaison asked Brian Emelson, Victor's Parks and Rec Director,  to explain the substantial increase in consultant fees, because less money is available for construction.  Emelson answered, “Rich Brauer had left Fisher for McFarland and we wanted him on for local knowledge and skill in handling the public input process.”

Skill in public input?  The DOT liaison says it is the most controversial project of the dozens he has worked with in his career.

5.)  The Wrong Specialist - More Wasted Money.   The Town Board approved payments for over $10,000 for 8 days of an ornithologist’s time.  Fisher Associates chose this person despite knowing that the critical environmental element was plants, not birds.   Almost all the billings on Invoices were for attending meetings, and mileage for driving to Victor from Syracuse.  And he wasn’t even qualified for this project – he was a waterfowl biologist - ducks – he had no expertise in plants.  DEC explicitly stated that his comments about plants did not constitute studies of any sort.  Subsequently, the town has paid many thousands more for a botanical consultant.




Accountability: Should the Consultants' Lack of Due Diligence Justify Receiving Additional Taxpayer Money?
In the spring of 2009 the consultants claimed they required an additional $89,000 (over the increase to $229,000 previously authorized by the Town Board) for “out of scope” work. In May 2009, the Town Board unanimously approved a resolution to allocate these additional funds, per the recommendation of the Parks and Rec Director.  Were these duties "out of scope"?  Or were they a convenient way to invoice the Town for more taxpayer money?  

Fisher Supplemental Agreement - $89,000
Fisher Associates claims that the additional funds were needed for "out of scope" tasks because the feds changed the classification of the project to an Environmental Assessment.
Although the original contract between the Consultant and the Town states that the consultant will do "detailed study or analysis" for threatened and endangered species, Fisher Associates did not do any substantive studies.  Fisher Associates also ignored DEC recommendation to do a survey for threatened species.   If the consultant had done its due diligence, and carried out the studies it agreed to do in its original $229,000 contract, they would have likely have located the threatened plant species (which were found and reported by others) - and it is likely that no Environmental Assessment would have been required.  

Most of what the consultant claims is "out of scope" was not - it is work that should have been done in its original contract.   However, on May 13, 2009, the Town Board, unanimously and without discussion, approved this resolution for an additional $89,000 for Fisher Associates and McFarland Johnson.


When we bring our car to be repaired, and the job isn't done properly, we return it until it is properly fixed - at no additional cost. Shouldn't the Town Board hold its consultants equally accountable?
 

 
 

Parks Fiscal Irresponsibilty

The 7 million dollar Recreation Center,
another Parks Department pet project,
was solidly voted down by Victor Residents.
Are these Parks and Rec projects in the 
best interests of Victor taxpayers?
Victor Town Board Fiscal Responsibility:
Who is Minding the Store?  
The Town Board is responsible to the taxpayers.  Board members rely on recommendations from the Parks and Recreation Director, Brian Emelson. Mr. Emelson has wanted this project to go forward, at whatever cost to taxpayers.  Has the Town Board simply rubber-stamped the financial resolutions put forth by Mr. Emelson?
 
 
 


For more information or supporting documentation,  e-mail rrmsea@gmail.com
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Auburn RRMSEA,
Nov 28, 2009, 7:56 PM
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Auburn RRMSEA,
Nov 28, 2009, 8:40 AM
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Auburn RRMSEA,
Nov 28, 2009, 9:08 PM