After a turbulent town meeting, Duxbury’s new select board met Monday to figure out what’s going on with the millions of dollars in grant projects the town has on its plate, and to look at the corresponding paperwork.
The problem is, no one on the board has it.
Now they’re looking for answers.
They have asked select board assistant Jonathan DeLaBruere to meet with them tonight, Thursday, to explain.
DeLaBruere could not be reached for comment.
The board wants to know how much money is being spent on each project, and what that means for town finances and for state and federal reimbursements for certain projects. Without documentation, reimbursements won’t occur.
DeLaBruere — who now works as town administrator in Fairfield, and still works for Duxbury in a limited capacity — said at previous meetings that the town has over $3.5 million in grant-driven projects either underway or planned.
Dick Charland, elected to the board on Town Meeting Day — he’d served previously from 2006 to 2014 — said he’d done some research and didn’t like what he found — or didn’t find.
Charland said lots of documents are missing. Public information about material costs, logged work and changes in the projects’ original designs and contracts wasn’t available at the town office. Other board members and Maureen Harvey, town clerk and treasurer, said they had asked DeLaBruere for the same documents multiple times, and received nothing.
‘Who approved this?’
“This isn’t a poke at anyone, sincerely,” Charland started. “Questions were asked at town meeting and the chair answered. His numbers didn’t correlate to anything I found in my research.”
“If you want specifics, some of us may have it, some of us might not have it. One person having it all here? I don’t think so,” said Mari Pratt, select board vice chair.
“There’s no question the board needs to have some idea,” Charland said.
As Charland laid out what information he could find, the rest of the board had few answers to fill in the blanks.
“Let’s talk about the crazy one, the May storm,” he said. “According to what I dug out, it was estimated at $300,000 … we then went out to bid, and Percy submitted a bid at $205,000. There were 10 change orders, two of which were allowed and eight were disallowed.”
These were requests either approved or denied by the Vermont Agency of Transportation, whose grants are supposed to cover 80 percent of the cost. Charland said the allowed changes added $11,000 in costs.
“The total amount billed was $299,000. The one question I have about the changes is, who approved this?” Charland asked.
The rest of the board didn’t have an answer.
This is the grant-funded project that caused some distress on Town Meeting Day. The board accepted the state’s reimbursement of $189,000 for the $299,000 job, $80,000 less than the town expected. The town took a loan, expecting the reimbursement; that loan has to be paid off in October.
“For grants, you have to substantiate your costs, and at this point they’re incomplete,” Harvey said.
She was elected treasurer last week, but had been requesting these documents from DeLaBruere while she was working as the town clerk last year. Material lists, work logs, documentation of bid openings and who bid on the projects — Harvey hasn’t been able to get her hands on the paperwork she needs to fill the gaps in these projects’ paper trails.
This issue isn’t isolated to the clerk and treasurer; every select board member reported requesting documents from DeLaBruere, and he failed to deliver.
Charland continued to list numbers on infrastructure projects, and the board couldn’t confirm a lot of them.
“We're not getting information in a timely manner on any of these,” said board member Jerry McMahan.
“You're not really getting any information. ... How can you make a decision on any other grants?” Charland said.
“The thought was, last year, to put a hold on any grants,” said Kevin Garcia, the new board chair. Charland questioned whether the town could even afford its 20 percent share of the project costs, but Garcia said the projects should have long-term benefits and the board should put together a schedule.
“You need to know your numbers. There's absolutely no timeline on the cash flow,” Harvey said, “I mean, this is ridiculous.”
“Ask for all contracts, all proposals, any documentation that involves the town of Duxbury,” Charland said.
“Have you not requested this information?" Garcia asked Pratt.
“I have requested this information,” she said.
“We've asked him for documentation here too, and it’s like pulling teeth,” McMahan said.
The board decided to meet again tonight, and ask DeLaBruere to be there with answers and documents.
“We have to get to the bottom of this as soon as possible,” Charland said.