Editorials published by the Goffstown Residents
Association are written by various members and
contributing non-members of the GRA.

Have you stopped and smelled the asphalt?
August 3, 2007
To all of you weary travelers trekking through the streets of Goffstown over the last couple of months, we wonder, "Have you stopped and smelled the asphalt?"

We hope so.  Actually, we suspect you'd have no choice.

Those of you who have been through the Grasmere "round-dee-round" lately certainly must have sampled the aroma, whether you wanted to or not.  

The project was supposed to be completed by the end of June.  Yet, to date it remains weeks from completion.  Of course, Henry Bridge Road was closed for the first two weeks of July, so perhaps you were spared the aroma by being forced to find an alternate route to your destination.

We also wonder if you've beamed with pride lately at the sight of our newly-purchased excavator?  If so, be careful.  That pride may be misdirected, as the excavator you're so proud of may actually be a second excavator DPW Director Carl Quiram has rented after purchasing the first one we were renting for years.

So much for the savings Quiram claimed we taxpayers would realize by buying the first one in the first place.

Speaking of purchasing excavators, Quiram was authorized a CIP line of $80,000 towards that purchase this year.  And after he bought it, he proudly announced he had purchased it for far less ("...in the sixty-something thousand range"), saving taxpayers thousands of dollars. 

Great.  Quiram had saved the town a sizeable amount on the excavator purchase, right?

But wait a minute.  Taxpayers later discovered that Quiram thereafter took that savings and spent it on upgrades to that excavator.  And he did so without authorization.  That money, as selectman Nick Campasano stated, should have been returned to the taxpayers. 

So much for that savings as well.

"But wait..," as they say in those famous Ginsu Knife commercials, "...there's more!"

This year, Quiram provided the town with an estimate of $600,000 for the Rosemont neighborhood drainage project.  Those monies were originally to be presented to voters for approval via a special warrant article.  But just prior to the March vote, the Budget Committee reduced Quiram's 2007 Road Plan request of $2M+ by $600,000 to cover the cost of that Rosemont project.

Quiram was not a happy camper about that one.

So guess what?  On Monday, July 23rd, Quiram announced his "bad news" to selectmen:  The Rosemont project would now actually cost $900,000. 

What???  How could his estimate have been off by 50%, selectmen asked? 

Quiram's response was that he had been "frugal", mistakenly, it seems.  He apparently never originally communicated with the city of Manchester (which would be involved in the project), and that after he finally presented his plan to them this year, Manchester pointed out numerous issues (gas lines, water lines, existing sewer composition, required digging depth, and more) that suddenly would add $300,000 to the cost of the project.

Interestingly, before that July 23rd meeting, and knowing his original Rosemont estimate was completely wrong, Quiram had already put the $600,000 back into his presentation to CIP for 2008 a week or so earlier.  And to justify it, he cited a comment made by Campasano on June 18th that if a CIP item came in over the allotment, the project or purchase would not be made (Quiram, at that meeting, after being chastised by Campasano for spending the aforementioned excavator purchase savings without authorization, asked Campasano what would have happened if the excavator purchase cost had exceeded the CIP-allotted $80,000.  Campasano's answer was, "You wouldn't be able to purchase it.")

So Quiram, who objected to having the $600,000 cost for the Rosemont project removed from his anticipated 2007 Road Plan budget in the first place, then turned in a revised estimate so high that the project had to be scrapped, and the monies now had the potential to be returned to him for his Road Plan...

Interesting coincidence.

Later, when further questioned as to the frugality of doing road construction work in-house vs. contracting the work out, Quiram stated confidently that doing road building work in-house is far less expensive than putting that work out to bid.  He then quoted figures of $50/square yard for outsourcing work vs. $15/square yard for his department to do the work. 

But once again, after further questioning, it was revealed that Quiram's in-house figure of $15 failed to include anything but materials.  His estimate omitted labor costs, insurance costs, pensions, benefits, fuel, depreciation, maintenance and equipment costs. 

But what we find especially interesting is that Quiram, when quoting his figures, failed to volunteer this fact to selectmen until he was asked directly whether or not his quote included labor.  In fact, Quiram by his own admission, has never tracked labor costs until recently, just after the first phase of the Grasmere roundabout project was completed. 

And, as pointed out by selectmen, Quiram's quotes are simple "snapshots" of specific projects and do not reflect the additional expenses DPW incurs by carrying its crews year-round. 

Selectmen also asked why Quiram continued to promote a policy of in-house construction work when no other Public Works department in the state of similar size does any road-building in house.  Quiram's response was that Hudson is the only other town that does.

But as board chairman John Caprio pointed out, "
You can’t just compare us to other towns without taking into account the tax base.  The residents of Goffstown shoulder the burden."

Selectman Scott Gross soon suggested that the town obtain an independent, outside firm to study and report on whether or not Quiram's claims that doing work in-house is less expensive or not. 

Good idea.

It's obvious to us that Quiram has no clue which method of building roads is less expensive.  Or does he?  He has quoted figures to selectmen knowing full well that the comparisons he has been presenting to them were extremely misleading and completely inaccurate, as he consistently omits the fact that his quotes for in-house work exclude everything but materials.  Indeed, he did the same thing earlier this year when quoting figures on the Pollard Road bridge project.

Effectively, Quiram has consistenly compared apples to oranges, but does not volunteer this information to selectmen.  Rather, selectmen must specifically ask for it.

Further, the way Quiram blew potential taxpayer savings by upgrading the excavator purchase without authorization, then renting a second excavator - thereby negating the savings we were suppose to realize by buying the first one - is, in our view, inexcusable, and further proof that Goffstown taxpayers need to sit up and take notice of how Quiram is running our DPW.  He has continued to claim that projects done in-house are less expensive, but does so by comparing all-inclusive outsourcing costs vs. materials-only in-house costs.  Again, a classic case of comparing apples to oranges.

Fortunately for taxpayers, selectmen are beginning to see through the smoke & mirrors and are realizing that Goffstown's DPW, dedicated employees notwithstanding, is in desperate need of an overhaul.  They took the first step towards that overhaul earlier this year by placing on moratorium on future roundabout construction projects and by voting last week to restrict Quiram's department to doing road maintenance only next year.

Hopefully, once an independent analysis and audit is done, we will all once and for all discover which way of building our roads is the most cost efficient for Goffstown's taxpayers.  Apples to apples.

If Quiram proves to be right when claiming in-house construction costs are lower, then let's help him build the biggest, baddest public works department the country has ever seen.

If Quiram is wrong, then perhaps selectmen should consider the words of local resident Ray Johannet who, during public comment on July 16th, raised concerns over the disarray and dangerous conditions allowed to exist on Henry Bridge Road that day after 5:00 PM - and many other days - and asked selectmen point-blank: "Why is that man still on the payroll”?"

Interesting question.



Selectmen reel in DPW
Selectmen again question DPW spending 
Last round of construction proceeds in Grasmere


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