UCCF 3/9/17: $8 Million UCIA Courthouse Ordinance


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Passed unanimously:

782-2017 AN ORDINANCE OF THE COUNTY OF UNION, STATE OF NEW JERSEY AUTHORIZING THE GUARANTY OF THE PAYMENT OF THE PRINCIPAL OF AND INTEREST ON NOT TO EXCEED $8,000,000 AGGREGATE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT OF COUNTY GUARANTEED LEASE REVENUE BONDS, SERIES 2017 (UNION COUNTY FAMILY COURT BUILDING PROJECT-ELIZABETH), ISSUED BY THE UNION COUNTY IMPROVEMENT AUTHORITY, FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING ADDITIONAL SECURITY THEREFOR AND DETERMINING CERTAIN OTHER MATTERS IN CONNECTION THEREWITH.

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The email sent to the Local Finance Board:

 

Letter to the DLFB—-Urgent

Trenton NJ

 

 Ref: Agenda item-March 8th, 2017 time stamp 10:45: Union County Improvement authority, the $8 million bond finance. 

Attn: DLFB members

Gentlemen, (Although I cannot make this march 8th meeting personally)

This is an objection to your agenda item above. We request it be denied or continued until a full accounting (by union county parties, prosecutor or by the Attorney general) of where a lot of the over $40 million dollar project costs have disappeared.  There is no substantive justification of this bond request.

My Background: I have been in construction for close to 40 years and I have never seen such boondoggles created by the Union County govt and their shadow entity the UCIA.  I have worked for multi-billion dollar companies such as Jacobs engineering, along with general and mechanical companies.  My vocation was in cost engineering, budgeting and estimating, generating and analyzing change orders and cost evaluating ongoing multi-million dollar construction projects.

This $8 million cost overrun bond finance must not go thru until the incompleteness and incompetency of all the players over the previous years is straightened out.  Once it is, then the $8 million probably would not be needed.  This is not water under the bridge but an egregious and covert act of funneling taxpayer moneys into various pockets with no check and balances in place. Much of these costs are being just rubberstamped without detailed back up, thought or analysis.  Suggestion-Most likely an independent auditor should be called in by the state, one that is not directly involved in the revenue stream approving documents while receiving all this largesse from their questionable actions. In fact a criminal investigation just could be warranted on the outcome of findings of collaboration among the agents.  If any tax monies have been paid out already, there needs to be a claw-back for the taxpayers.

Based on my background expertise, simply looking at SOME of the change orders and back up (that I finally received via OPRA-yesterday Tuesday march 7th) I am amazed at their rubberstamping costs without substantiation. My comments are as follows:

Ref: Change order Exhibit F (the public is finally privy to these change orders from this bond request)

Change order B-CO#2: total $1,960,165. Smoke evacuation Most of this should be denied on part of the architects errors or omissions insurance.  Explanation:

*Smoke evacuation costs: $1,607,711- Possible dismissed, architect to eat. (Delete these costs from the bond) As a specialized public building/courthouse, this should have been part of the original contract, such smoke dampers and related work is always found at all fire rated walls.  The reason that Netta architects missed it is that he has no experience in building courthouses as was proven by his dossier.  Any fire code official review would have picked up only minor adds if any.  (Allegedly, my suspicion comes into play that they left it out so the “preferred” general contractor can bid low and get the job.)

*Computer terminal costs: $9,300-OK

*High mountain concrete productivity costs: $80,952. Possibly Dismiss. Pouring concrete in October, November, 2013 does not produce deleterious labor effects.  In the middle of winter, concrete footings cannot and must not be poured due to damage.

*Time extension costs: $250,000 total: Dismiss most. Costs made up of the following:

*Permit delay: $78,000- Dismiss. Nothing was ongoing so this is dismissed.  There was no back up anyway so fake number?

*Weather delay: $80,000-Possible dismiss some. If cold weather, its annual so doesn’t come into play no matter what every year.  No unions state for men to just sit in trailers waiting for weather to break.

*Bulletin #1 sched extension: $103,000. Dismiss.  This is part of the smoke evac system errors and omissions.  Architect to eat. This is not acceptable as the project was not ongoing and there was no actual delay.  There was no back up anyway so fake number, don’t know who this $ goes to?

* As listed in back up-The average delay cost per month: $35,814/month claim is very exorbitant and unacceptable.

Change order B-CO#5: Totals $990,000. Prosecutor space (the public never received the back up to review, so possibly fake numbers)

*only item 5 jumps out: $145,000. Dismiss.  Design changes that result from design errors and omissions. Architect admits this and should cover this in his errors and omissions clause.  The rest are just lump sum numbers with no back up.

Change order B-CO#7: Totals $1,891,458. PCO settlements and contingency

*Possibly dismiss. This is a log basically and reviewing it, there is a lot of duplication from B-CO#2 and #5.  If CO#2 is duplicated herein I saw nothing by OPRA that cancels co #2, so there is an duplication issue that needs to be investigated.

Change order C-CA#1: $1,810,925. VE, redesign, rebids

*This $ figure is only the architects increase over his base contract based on the county’s sudden increase of square footage of the building.  Although, there is some validity since larger bldg, I pointed above that there may have been a game going to award the arch services to the county’s “preferred” architect, without competition and then being able to fatten up his total $ number.   Any back up provided was just lump sum numbers and not details so could not review this tripling of his base contract.

Change order C-CA#2: $890,300. LEED, CA services, fiber design, LSRP

*This is more of Netta architect’s additional costs. Any back up provided was just lump sum numbers and not details so could not review this tripling of his base contract.  The title has CA-construction administration services, yet they have Mast Construction on board doing the same oversight work as construction manager so duplication of services? Unsure why LEED is noted in the CO title.  This should have been part of the base contract

Change order C-CA#9: $285,352.  Extended services.

*Dismiss all. Any extensions are due to failure of two GCs on project so their P&P bonds cover this not the taxpayers. The docs says $285,352 as lump sum for 10 months for construction admin services, there is no cost break down or what they provided. $28,500 per month is exorbitant.  What did they do while the project was on hold? One re-allocates the personnel and resources. This possible should be one person per month, salary of $7-10,000 plus expenses, so maybe $10-12,000/ month

Change order C-CA#10: $158,000 (?)-The public received no back up on this-unacceptable.

Change order C-CA#11: $368,000: Extended services

*Dismiss all. Any extensions are due to failure of two GCs on project so their P&P bonds cover this not the taxpayers.  No real back up provided to public on why these costs, so fake numbers? This is for a period of 12 months so it works out to $30,700/month.  C-CA#9 was for only $28,500, is this fatter since just rubberstamping?  Still should be $10-12,000/month. Just rubberstamp?

Change order C-CA#12: $183,300- Prosecutor design, extended CA

*Dismiss.  The exhibit F says $183,300.  The minimal back up received says $29,300 then revised to $94,000.  Nothing makes sense and or incomplete.  Just rubberstamp?

Change order D-CO#1: $537,485 Extended services

*Dismiss.  Mast Construction is the designated construction manager.  He claims 12 months delay into 2015. There is no back up to his claim that he has actual costs $46,938 per month for his services.  Maybe trailer, phone, 1-2 people, which totals $25,000/month tops.  With no back up did the UCIA rubberstamp?  Besides any extensions are due to failure of two GCs on project so their P&P bonds cover this rip-off not the taxpayers.  

Change order D-CO#2: $551,485 Extended services

*Dismiss.  Mast Construction is the designated construction manager.  He claims 15 more months delay into 2016. There is no back up to his claim that he has actual costs $36,750 per month for his services. (down from the above D-CO#1 costs of $46,938?)  Maybe trailer, phone, 1-2 people, which totals $25,000/month tops.  With no back up did the UCIA rubberstamp?  Besides any extensions are due to failure of two GCs on project so their P&P bonds cover this rip-off not the taxpayers.  

Change order D-CO#3: $183,750 Extended services

*Possibly Dismiss.  Mast Construction is the designated construction manager.  He claims 2 more months delay to april 2017. There is no back up to his claim that he has actual costs $36,750 per month for his services. (down from the above D-CO#1 costs of $46,938?)  Maybe trailer, phone, 1-2 people, which totals $25,000/month tops.  With no back up did the UCIA rubberstamp?  Besides, further extensions may/may not be due to failure of two GCs on project so their P&P bonds cover this rip-off not the taxpayers.  

Change order E-CO#1: $$427,500-Legal fee for termination, takeover

*Decrease this cost:  There is no back up provided for these legal costs.  Are they just rubberstamping?  If assume public hourly rate of a high $300/hr then we are looking at 1500 hours.  For what?

One last comment on why my skepticism-if you have seen the architect rendering of the building:  The UCIA director back in 2012 claimed to the public that this is an energy saving and cost efficient building.  Anyone with design/cost/construction background knows a 4 story fully glass enclosed building on 2 sides with a flying buttress roof design is certainly not cheap and certainly wastes a lot of energy thru the 4 story open glass walls.  I could go further detail into why this project and the players should be investigated but this letter is just for the objection.  Plus back around 2010 in the beginning, the county put out for professional architectural services a 24,000 sf building. Netta architects was low bidder at $980,000.  One year later, the county amazingly comes to the conclusion that the building needs to increase the building size 3x to 75,000 sf!  A change order from Netta architects then had an add of $1,800,000 increasing his contract to $2,800,000.  And to date his contract now totals $4.4 million. (Allegedly, my suspicion comes into play that the county put out a small building proposal so the “preferred” professional can bid low and get the job then increase his contract without facing competition.)  The county claims they were forced to build this, but not this expensive monstrosity which they have used as a cash cow for their dubious dealings.

 If any questions, I can be reached anytime at 908-956-5651 and respond to questions and work with an independent investigator, prosecutor or attorney general, if you desire.  I may forward this to other parties also.

Which got this response:

Dear Mr. Paterson:

 The below concerns were brought to the attention of the Local Finance Board, as well as representatives of the Union County Improvement Authority, at today’s Local Finance Board meeting.   The applicant addressed the items on the record.  The Board voted to issue positive findings on the application pursuant to NJSA 40A:5A-6 with a condition that written responses to the points in your correspondence be submitted to the Chairman of the Local Finance Board.

 A transcript of today’s meeting will be available on the Division of Local Government Services’ website in approximately 60 days.

 Patricia Parkin McNamara, Executive Secretary, Local Finance Board

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