At last night's public session at Waukesha City Hall, officials were asked by an Alderwoman to disclose how much had been spent producing the Lake Michigan diversion plan - - now pegged at $164 million to construct and another $7 million annually to operate - - that still has, easily, some years to go before final modification, approval or rejection.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The answer was, 'we'll get to that.'
I know from my own years of reporting that contracts with Godfrey & Kahn, Reinhart et al, Schreiber & Associates, The Cadmus Group/GeoSyntec, CH2M Hill, and the Washington DC=based firm Barbour & Associates are - - at a minimum - - in the multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars.
That's because CH2M Hill, as I disclosed on this blog in December, now has the $125,000 Water Utility contract previously held by GeoSyntec, and the Schreiber & Associates contract in its last renewal called for a monthly payment of a little more than $10,000 per month.
It even paid for one report it said it never authorized - - a bit of an embarrassment because the lawyer who wrote it spoke approvingly of a water-buying community sharing its tax-base growth with Milwaukee!
And the bottom line will be higher more if you include Ruekert & Mielke, one of two engineering contractors with CH2M Hill on the oft-quoted 2002 future water supply study plan that pointed the city towards the Lake Michigan alternative.
The contracts - - for lawyers, scientists, engineers, public relations and fund-raising/lobbying experts - - are a matter of public record, and Water Utility staff could put together a spreadsheet on the subject in an hour.
I would assume that the cost of city and utility staffers' time on diversion and supply plans would be a big number, too, but my guess is that the issue raised at the meeting last night was more about contractor and consultants' costs.
Because the application is finally at the cusp of formal introduction, and will kick off months, perhaps years of work with eight states' regulatory officials, and negotiations with perhaps three cities as possible Lake Michigan water suppliers (and by the way, Milwaukee - - the City Administrator promised Council members last night absolutely that no deal would be negotiated that in any way gave up Waukesha's sovereignty, independence or control of its housing and transportation), and any number of unforeseen scientific or legal challenges, along with inflation...an accounting now will be a good predictor of spending to come.
I'm not suggesting there is anything amiss with the contracting. These firms are all established and well-known.
And the city can say that some contracts have helped nail down federal grants, provided good legal and scientific advice, and so forth.
Just that officials should have provided the data earlier and delay mucks up the city's claims of transparency.