Cost Overruns Leave District Exposed:
School District Scrambles to Buy
Tables & Chairs
Rumblings of Selling More Bonds
Some have warned this date would come....
At its Wednesday August 26th School Board meeting, the Emery Unified School District wrung its hands with worry about how they would find the money to complete the District/City Hall joint project, the Emeryville Center for 'Community' Life (“ECCL”).
|Imaginary Typical Chair|
Cost to School District: $335
Nexus Partners fee per chair: $36.85
Nexus to District:
'Imagine a chair.
Now send us $36 because
that's all you have money for.'
How did the District end up in this situation?
While it would be convenient for the District to claim that no one could have anticipated cost overruns and to place the blame for this shortfall there, long-time readers of the Tattler may be able to fathom a different explanation.
Where did all the money go? (Partial List)
|$8,717,265*||Nexus Partners (fee based on 11% of total project cost, including FFE) for architectural/design services including “Full Service Community Task Force”|
|$1,750,000||Lease (and extend lease to) Santa Fe Elementary from Oakland Unified rather than use vacant Ralph Hawley site|
|$1,733,467||Clean up of toxic waste found in ECCL site soil. (Who could have guessed?)|
|$1,100,000||Swinerton Builders for construction project oversight after Roy Miller's resignation|
|$208,800||National Equity Project, Children's Aid Society, MIG, and Partners in School Innovation for “program development”|
|$20,607||iPads, iPad covers, and iPad software purchased in September 2011 and additional iPad software and iPad imaging cart purchased in June 2012. All iPads purchased have now been stolen, lost, or rendered obsolete.|
|$17,000||Davis & Associates for a Communications Plan, including a “rapid response team” for responding to the Tattler.|
|$Who knows?||Potentially questionable bond fees paid to firms that other districts are suing for conflict of interest and breach of fiduciary duties.|
*The architectural/design services fees item is included not because the District could have done without this entirely, but because, as the linked Tattler article explains, Nexus Partners were paid $168,650 in February 2013 to conduct a Full Service Community Task Force in which they led a few community meetings that were then abruptly canceled (did we get any refund for the canceled meetings?) and because Nexus sent us a bill for $479,151 in May 2013, simply because the total cost of the project had increased and their fee is percentage-based. This means the District literally payed Nexus Partners 11% of the estimated cost of FFE that we now cannot afford to actually buy. This method of invoicing is so fantastic it takes a degree in architecture to understand it.
|School Board President John Affeldt|
Ooops! We're out of money...
we'll just hit up the City for more.
They're our partners in this
& they've got deep pockets.
What are they gunna do?
Turn us down?
The Tattler has consistently ridiculed the District's outsized payouts to consultants and its over-spending when less costly alternatives were available. Were we just being miserly? No. It was in anticipation of this day. The reason for Board of Trustees to spend taxpayer money in fiscally responsible ways is because otherwise you end up here....with a half-built project that we cannot afford to finish or furnish. The above chart contains places where $2-3 million could easily have been saved and which the Tattler and concerned residents urged the District at the relevant times not to spend.
More Bond Money?
Never fear; in addition to the crisis around these extra costs for the pool and the FFE revealed at Wednesday's School Board meeting, the Board heard a presentation from bond advisor (and top Measure J contributor), Caldwell Flores, about how the District could go out for even more expensive bonds (and pay more fees to Caldwell Flores) in a last-ditch effort to close the District's funding gap. That's right. Who will be picking up the tab for this District's spendy ways? Emeryville taxpayers...you guessed it. Your bill is in the mail.