Dedicated to Restoring & Maintaining Integrity in Goffstown Government


February 16, 2007
Selectmen question DPW plans, estimates
Director states he has no idea how long it takes DPW to build a road

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 Bridge Road;
     • Outsource replacement of 3 bridges on Mountain Road;
     • Outsource replacement of 1 bridge on Pollard Road.


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."


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 his estimates. 

Below is a transcript of that conversation as taken from the BOS meeting of 12-Feb-07:

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.


It appears no one at DPW has a clue as to which is more cost-effective: outsourcing projects, or doing them in-house.  

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 comparison?"

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.  

Stay tuned...



Editorial:  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 Committee)

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)


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