A Letter to the Editor from Lacey resident Regina Discenza:Finally, after three years, the NJ State Comptroller’s office has issued an alert about the investigation into the $19.8 million dollar solar project by the Lacey Township School District. Superfluous spending at its best!
The alert states that school district failed to protect the taxpayers. (It does not name Lacey but gives enough information, specifically the numerical values, to know which project they are discussing.)
The architectural firm’s inexperience with such projects caused a significant overestimate resulting in overbonding for the project at $8.2 million dollars. This in turn caused the unnecessary expenditure of $4,717,576 of state tax dollars since the DOE subsidized the project with debt service aid.
The taxpayers ultimately are bearing the responsibility of overbonding at a cost of $3.5 million in additional interest.
This is a significant sum.
The alert also states the district failed to engage in any competitive process to find the most qualified or experienced firm. (Because it was not required to do so.)
I personally obtained the name of the contractor that did an almost identical project for the Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA). The contractor sent a letter of introduction to the Lacey School District business administrator asking if they could come and see the project.
Within 24 hours, the business administrator turned them away with a thanks but no thanks e-mail. I got a copy. I was shocked they wouldn’t even let another company SEE the job!
The lack of district oversight and failure to have their attorney review the architect’s contract all contributed to the overpayment and overbonding. The contract was a paragraph!! I had obtained it via OPRA. I was shocked with its brevity.
The State DOE facilities dept also failed by not requiring any detailed analysis of construction cost estimates.
The alert further states that the district overpaid the architect $455,000. Recommendations stated school districts should carefully structure architectural service contracts to prevent these firms from receiving windfall compensation.
A very sad scenario indeed all in the name of green energy.
When the public questioned the project, we were ridiculed.
No prudent manager of public funds would have allowed this to happen. All the Board members and administrators who approved this project should immediately resign for dereliction of duty. The taxpayers do not need you approving any more wasteful spending!
In the real world, when people screw up over $4 million dollars, they are usually fired. In Lacey, they are awarded a golden parachute at retirement.
I wonder how much the students and teachers could have benefited from an extra $455,000 in school supplies?
LaceyHere is the link to the state report:http://www.nj.gov/comptroller/news/docs/comptroller_alert_31114.pdf