GOFFSTOWN - Public Works director Carl Quiram addressed the Board of
Selectmen on Monday night in search of guidance as to which planned
projects should be done in 2007, and by whom.
Referencing a January 19th memo he had previously submitted to selectmen,
Quiram outlined the difficulties his department will face in 2007 due
to last year's Mother's Day flooding and this year's $600,000 cut in the
Road Plan (presuming it passes on March 13th). In doing so, he
recommended that the BOS approve the following projects for 2007:
• Snook Road reclamation, to be done
in-house by DPW;
• 30-40 road reclamations, to be done
in-house by DPW;
• Outsource reclamation of the lower portion
of Mountain Road;
• Outsource replacement of 1 bridge on Henry
• Outsource replacement of 3 bridges on
• Outsource replacement of 1 bridge on
BRIDGE COST ESTIMATES JUST A GUESS
The state Department of Transportation will assume 80% of the cost of
the bridge replacements. Quiram had originally wanted to do the
Henry Bridge and Mountain Road bridges in-house. After last year's
flooding damaged the Pollard Road bridge, FEMA estimated its
replacement cost at $140,000. Quiram now
suggests outsourcing all five bridges to one contractor in the hopes the
cost-per-bridge would be lower for doing 5 bridges instead of just one.
Quiram guessed the other four would each cost the same as the Pollard Road
bridge, based on FEMA's estimate.
"We never broke it out bridge by bridge 'cause we were looking at 4 bridges
altogether," Quiram said. "The way I estimated our costs this year: FEMA had done a very detailed estimate for Pollard Road bridge, a cost estimate.
And they came up with about $140,000 to do Pollard Road bridge. I didn't re-create the wheel; I looked at that and said 'I've got four more bridges just like that one', so that's how I came up with the $570,000 that I estimated to put the four - Mountain and Henry Bridge - out to bid."
IN-HOUSE ESTIMATES ONLY INCLUDE MATERIALS
The board then discussed Quiram's plans to do the Snook Road project in-house. Previously,
Quiram had preferred to outsource this work at a cost of $1.2M, and had
provided an estimate for doing the work in-house for only $300,000.
"Snook was going to be put out to bid," Quiram said.
"You know, last summer the way this thing, when I gave you
guys...I came in last summer and I had two of these (spreadsheets), one was blue one was yellow, that was when we kinda flipped-flopped Snook and Tenney, and we were gonna put Snook out. That's when the whole eruption started:
How does Snook Road, costs went from $300K up to $1.2M and that's that difference in us paying contracted out rates vs. just for materials."
OK, $300,000 "...just for materials." But what about everything else???
It turns out that Quiram's $300,000 in-house cost estimate does not
include such items as labor costs, fuel costs, insurance costs, benefits
costs, vehicle and equipment costs, and much more. Selectmen John
Caprio and Nick Campasano then questioned Quiram as to the validity of
Below is a transcript of that conversation as taken from the BOS meeting
|QUIRAM: "I do not have, Nick, the detail you asked for. We don't break, never
have in 6 years, broken down our projects by man hours, you know, of our staff as you see on your list. There's
literally 30, 40 roads. Each one would have to be broken out in detail. We've never done that before, so I..."
CAMPASANO: "No, I was just talking about roads you had planned for this year. You have 30 roads?"
QUIRAM: "Yeah, 40."
CAMPASANO: "So you must do an estimate of how long it's going to take to do..."
CAMPASANO: "You don't have any idea how long it's going to take to do a road?"
CAMPASANO: "Then how do you plan how many roads you're going to do in a year?"
Indeed, how does he estimate the costs to
the taxpayers of building these roads? How can he know whether outsourcing the work wouldn't be more cost effective?
Selectmen are now reviewing DPW's plans while awaiting more detailed
information before their next meeting with Quiram, scheduled for
February 26th, when it is expected they will make their final
recommendations on DPW's proposed projects for 2007.
NO CLUE ON COST-EFFECTIVENESS
It appears no one at DPW has a clue as to which is more
cost-effective: outsourcing projects, or doing them
DPW is the second-largest employer in Goffstown, second only to St.
Anselm college. When considering the exorbitant costs of
maintaining such a large workforce,
with medical and liability insurances, payroll costs, overtime, benefits
and other employee expenses, in addition to equipment, trucks, vehicles,
fuel, buildings, and maintenance & replacement costs for those,
outsourcing our road projects might prove to be much more cost effective and less
expensive than doing them in-house.
But know one knows, because Quiram's in-house estimates for the last
six years have taken nothing into account beyond materials.
As Campasano stated during the
meeting, "If we say it's easier and cheaper to do it in-house than
to bid it out, but we haven't any information on how long it takes us labor-wise to do it in-house, how do we make that
Good question. We wonder how many more projects might have been completed with our
prior-years' Road Plan monies had proper estimates been prepared
beforehand. Indeed, the question begs: will such research and detailed estimates for
future projects ultimately show that in-house DPW projects are nothing
more that a huge waste of taxpayer money? No one knows...yet.
Watch Out for Article 16!
Road Plan articles:
ARTICLE 15: "To
see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of One
Million Four Hundred Seventy Three Thousand Six Hundred Sixty Five
Dollars ($1,473,665) for the purpose of implementing the current phase
of the Road Improvement Plan. The road improvement plan has been part of
the CIP process since 2002 and annual appropriations for the plan have
been approved as Special Articles since 2002. This article is designated
as a Special Article pursuant to RSA
32:3, VI (d). (This appropriation is in addition to Article 14.)
" (Recommended by the Board of Selectmen & the Budget
ARTICLE 16: "To
see if the Town will direct the Board of Selectmen to include the Road
Plan appropriation in the operating and default budgets beginning in
2008." (Recommended by the Board of Selectmen)