Money Down the Drain

by Lou Binninger

It’s not a happy day when citizens watch government workers killing time and bureaucrats bungling away their hard-earned tax dollars.

As Marysville City government campaigned twice to finally get a 1% sales tax increase to shore-up slumping revenues in 2016, residents then learned that the City Services Director neglected to file twelve Water Resources quarterly reports. The state fined the city $3 million. The Director is now comfortably retired after his misdeed with no personal consequences.

The City’s attorneys Rich Fuidge Lane and Bordsen, on retainer for about $10,000 a month, then hired an outside attorney to negotiate a deal with the state. In June 2017, the state agreed to a reduced $288,000 fine with one-half going to improve the water quality of Ellis Lake. Now 2019, there is no sign of Ellis Lake progress.

Last week, City Attorney Brant Bordsen notified the Council of another settlement, this time to pay RGW Construction $575,000 from monies in the sewer fund --- not for completing a waste water project but for not finishing it.

The Council approved the payment. With Marysville households making sewage payments of $36.80 per month the settlement equals 15,625 payments for government malfeasance. That combined with Cal Water Service rates 300% higher than Linda, Olivehurst and Yuba City is a joy buster.

RGW was hired on February 9, 2015 to connect the Marysville sewage infrastructure to the Linda Water Treatment Plant. The contract was for $5,230,975. “During the course of the project the City encountered delays in obtaining necessary permits from the Corps of Engineers. As a consequence, RGW was delayed in its ability to proceed with the project. Ultimately, the City determined it was in its best interest to terminate the contract with RGW for its convenience,” wrote City Attorney Bordsen.

RGW then submitted claims for the delays in construction and costs connected to the termination of the contract. As RGW and the City could not reach an agreement RGW filed a lawsuit in Yuba County Superior Court.

RGW sought $1,138,101.29 and settled in mediation for $575,000 prior to going to trial. To the lowly taxpayer, two government entities, the City and/or the Corps of Engineers failed them miserably. Was any government employee dismissed? Who takes responsibility? No apology, nothing.

What was the $575,000 in the sewer fund to be used for? Were citizens being overcharged on sewage rates? And will sewage rates now be increased to reward government incompetence?

It is amazing that high paid City administrators, consultants and City attorneys cannot execute a contract with its appropriate permits without taxpayers being penalized $575,000. Maybe we need another 1% sales tax increase for public safety.

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