DiNapoli: Port Chester Not Forthcoming About a $5.4 Million
Cost Overrun of Senior Center/Village Hall
Due to a lack of transparency and weak oversight, the cost of the Port Chester Senior Center/Village Hall project leaped from a maximum-allowed $9.4 million to $14.8 million, according to an audit released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Officials broke the project into several pieces, presenting the first segment to the public as the total cost and circumventing a public referendum. In subsequent years, they presented add-on costs as new projects, which were actually a completion of the original project. Expenses exceeded the authorized maximum cost of $9.4 million by approximately $5.4 million.
“When officials fail to keep an eye on the bottom line, taxpayers lose,” DiNapoli said. “Now more than ever, taxpayers need honest numbers and open information.”
By not informing residents of the project’s true costs, the village reduced the likelihood that residents would exercise their right of a permissive referendum at the project’s onset. Additionally, due to a lack of monitoring, the board could not be sure the work met expectations or complied with originally established budget constraints.
Moreover, village officials did not have documentation to show that they periodically solicited competition through a request for proposal (RFP) or quotation process for architectural services. The village hired the same firm to work on the project that they had used for the last eight years, paying about $1.2 million for the project. Without competition, village officials had no assurance that they obtained the best services at the lowest possible cost.
DiNapoli recommended that village officials:
- Fully disclose estimated project costs to taxpayers, so they can make informed decisions on project approvals;
- Prepare budgets that minimize potential cost overruns and secure sufficient funding prior to initiating projects;
- Prepare periodic reports comparing expected to actual budgeted expenditures;
- Provide financial and project progress reports to the Board on a monthly basis;
- Obtain competition when acquiring professional services and sign written contracts for these professional services.
Village officials generally agreed with DiNapoli’s recommendations, and indicated they would take corrective action.
Click here for a copy of the audit report.