Regent Should Disclose Financial Records

Commissioner Murman quoted in this Tribune article on the Regent:

Hillsborough commissioners want Regent to disclose financial records

By RAY REYES | The Tampa Tribune
Published: June 02, 2011

 

TAMPA —

Hillsborough County commissioners want to take a closer look into not only how taxpayers’ money contributed to the construction of The Regent but also how profits from the opulent structure in Riverview are used.

“I’d like to know the financial flows of how those funds are used and how those monies are accounted for,” Commissioner Kevin Beckner said of the rental fees charged by The Regent. “There were public funds used to construct this. I think it’s absolutely appropriate we ask this.”

Commissioners voted unanimously for the Clerk of the Court to conduct an audit and assessment on The Regent and the Brandon nonprofit that runs the building at 6437 Watson Road.

The audit would delve into the financial records of the nonprofit Brandon Community Advantage Center and trace how $2.5 million from the county’s Community Investment Tax was used to build The Regent.

Another $3.9 million came from state and federal grants.

How various county departments approved the project during its development will also be part of the audit and assessment. Dan Pohto, the clerk’s audit director, told commissioners he would report back to the board with his findings in about 90 days.

“We need a clear process,” Commissioner Sandy Murman said of approving CIT funds. “Maybe an accountability check-off sheet. I do believe the process and management of CIT money is really an issue here.”

The $2.5 million in county money for The Regent was initially approved by commissioners in 2008. The issue was a consent agenda item, which is a long list of items that the commission usually votes on as a package without a public hearing.

Beckner said the information he and the board was given at the time was that The Regent could be used as a hurricane shelter and a community center for Brandon.

Commissioner Les Miller said today that that kind of oversight must stop.

“This was placed on the consent agenda, which just flew through this body,” he said. “We have to do better.”

At the meeting today, Pohto provided commissioners with a copy of the scope of service between the county and the Brandon nonprofit regarding how the tax money would be used.

The agreement listed only that the $2.5 million from the county would be used for construction costs.

“I don’t see anything about it being a hurricane shelter,” Pohto said. “That came after the fact.”

Miller said the document left him baffled.

“This is the scope of service?” Miller said. “Is this supposed to outline what this building is supposed to be?”

The nonprofit that runs The Regent has come under fire from commissioners and other community leaders for not being accessible as a community center.

Although funded with public dollars, The Regent’s upper floor is rented for lavish banquets, wedding receptions and parties with rental fees of up to $4,250. Hillsborough Community College uses space on the building’s lower floor for classrooms.

State Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, said her office had fielded complaints from groups and organizations who wanted to rent out rooms at The Regent, but the fees were too high.

A local Boy Scout troop was told a $700 fee was needed to hold a two-hour event on a Tuesday night and a women’s counseling group was asked to pay $3,000 to use the building for a few hours, Burgin said.

County Commission Chairman Al Higginbotham asked County Administrator Mike Merrill earlier this month to investigate how county money was spent on a building that boasts a 10,000-square-foot ballroom with hardwood floors, 20-foot tall ceilings with chandeliers, grand staircase and outdoor terrace. Commissioners later expanded the investigation and asked the Clerk of the Court to conduct an audit.

Before Merrill was appointed county administrator, he was director of a county department that approved the business plan for The Regent. The plan outlined the extravagant high-end details of the buildings and how its upper floor would be rented for private events.

Merrill said he had one person in the department who reviewed all the business plans and the purpose of the plan was to “look at the operation feasibility of a project. Could the nonprofit that was proposing the project afford to operate it? He would focus on that and nothing else.”

The business plan said the nonprofit estimated $444,750 in revenue in the first year of operation. The plan did not include a commitment for private money to help pay for the building and its furnishings. Neither did it mention a commitment for community programs.

Merrill said the Debt Management Department, which reviewed the business plan, was not interested in design or engineering.

“”It’s really a situation where the scope is limited to looking at feasibility of operation,” he said.

The Brandon nonprofit has since outlined a six-step plan to make The Regent more accessible to the public.

The steps include the creation of a task force of local community leaders to provide input on programming and outreach, revamping The Regent’s rental prices and contacting groups across eastern Hillsborough County to offer the building as a possible venue and ask what their needs are.

 

 

Regent Facility in Brandon

Commissioner Murman quoted in this story from News Channel 8 on Brandon Community Advantage Center:

Merrill headed department that OK’d Regent plan

By STEVE ANDREWS | News Channel 8
Published: June 01, 2011

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The opulence of The Regent should come as no surprise to Mike Merrill, Hillsborough’s county administrator.

In 2009, Merrill was director of a county department that approved the business plan for the $7 million upscale community center near Brandon, in Riverview.. The plan outlined the extravagant high-end details of the building and how its upper floor would be rented for weddings, receptions and other private events.

Now, Merrill is overseeing an investigation of whether Hillsborough County’s $2.5 million for The Regent was spent appropriately.

The county required that the business plan be approved by its debt management department before it provided $2.5 million to the Brandon Community Advantage Center, the nonprofit group building The Regent.

“I don’t recall reading the whole thing myself,” Merrill says of the business plan.

He said he had one person in the department who reviewed all business plans.

“The purpose of it was to look at the operational feasibility of a project,” Merrill said. “Could the nonprofit that was proposing the project afford to operate it? He would focus on that and nothing else.”

County commissioners recently expressed surprise that tax dollars were the only source of funding used by the Brandon organization to pay for The Regent.

State and federal emergency management agencies contributed $3.9 million toward the project.  Hillsborough Community College provided $750,000.  The Brandon nonprofit group deeded the building to HCC once construction was finished.

The business plan said the nonprofit entity estimated $444,750 in revenue in the first year of operation. The plan also pointed out that the building’s design plan included a grand event space opening onto a covered terrace, with a grand outdoor staircase.

“Adding to the stately nature of the (Regent) are its classical columns at the porte cochere, open balusters at parapet walls, classical entablatures, and marble tile finish,” the business plan stated.

The plan did not include a commitment for private money to help pay for the building and its furnishings.  Neither did it mention a commitment for community programs.

The Brandon nonprofit group has said it will have more of a focus on community programs in the future.

Merrill said the debt management department was not interested in design or engineering.

“It’s really a situation where the scope is limited to looking at feasibility of operation,” he said.

County Commissioner Sandy Murman took office after the deal to build The Regent was approved.  She says there should have been more county oversight. “You could tell that they were trying to make it look like a private facility more than a public community center, and that should’ve been the red flag that went up,” she said.

The business plan presented to the county stated that the building’s features “establish the (Regent) as a prime venue for formal parties, … weddings, graduation celebrations, anniversary gatherings, grand reunions, elaborate functions, community get-togethers” and more.

The plan was submitted to the county by Earl Lennard, current county supervisor of elections, who was working as a consultant for the nonprofit group at the time.

The plan also showed that the group intended to keep less upscale events on the ground floor of the building. “The so-called ‘community room’ will ensure that groups that tend to be more ‘messy,’ such as children’s theatre performances and rehearsals and scouting luncheons, will be accommodated in spaces that are outfitted less expensively,” the business plan said.

The plan also stated that the building’s attributes put “it in great stead to compete in the grand space venue market that includes such Tampa options as Higgins Hall, the A La Carte Event Pavilion, Pepin’s Hospitality Centre, University Area Community Center and Centro Asturiano de Tampa.”

“We don’t need our public facilities to be competing with private,” Murman says.

 

 

Renee Lee’s Severance

Commissioner Murman quoted in this Times article on County Attorney:

 

Hillsborough commissioners ask about County Attorney Renee Lee’s severance

By Bill Varian, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Tuesday, May 31, 2011

TAMPA — It’s deja vu all over again at Hillsborough County Center.

For the better part of a year, commissioners wrestled with how to get rid of former County Administrator Pat Bean. A majority thought she should go, but they choked on severance terms in her contract that guaranteed Bean a nearly half-million-dollar payout if fired without adequate justification.

In an ominous note for embattled County Attorney Renee Lee, at least two commissioners have confirmed they are seeking a legal opinion on the meaning of the severance terms in Lee’s contract.

They aren’t as favorable for Lee as they were for Bean.

A majority of commissioners say they want a decision on Lee’s future with the county to be made expeditiously. Commissioners are scheduled to talk about it Thursday.

“Hopefully, she’ll come to some decisions by herself maybe and relieve everybody of their misery in that way,” said Commissioner Sandy Murman.

• • •

Like Bean, Lee is guaranteed a year of pay, but only part of future benefits, if fired without cause. Though paid nearly as much as Bean at $212,722, the value of her benefits is not nearly as much since she has been with the county just seven years.

Lee’s current estimated payout: $233,813, according to the county human resources department.

But Lee has a contract that appears to give commissioners broader justification to fire her without paying her anything.. Bean’s contract specified that to deny her severance commissioners had to find she committed a crime or other illegal act that benefited her personally.

Lee’s contract, which was extended to Aug. 6, 2014, two years ago, says she can be terminated without a payout if “convicted” of certain crimes, if she loses her license, if she takes another office, but also for “flagrant neglect of duty.”

Clearwater-based labor lawyer Ryan Barack said he does not believe “flagrant neglect of duty” has accepted meaning under the law.

Tampa-based labor lawyer Tom Gonzalez, who works often with local governments, agreed. “I do think it’s much more broad than the provisions in Pat Bean’s contract,” Gonzalez said.

Commissioner Mark Sharpe, the one unequivocal voice on the board calling for Lee’s termination, said he believes that’s a wide enough opening to deny Lee severance given recent circumstances. “Flagrant means obvious to anyone, including a first-year law student,” Sharpe said.

• • •

The board is scheduled to have a discussion Thursday on whether to ask the Florida Bar to look into the circumstances surrounding an April lunch Lee had with former Commissioner Kevin White. The discussion could prove wide-ranging.

Lee, 58, the county’s top legal adviser, has acknowledged she had lunch with White, with whom the county is locked in a bitter lawsuit. The county and White are fighting over who should pay legal bills from a 2009 federal court verdict that said White discriminated against a former aide by firing her for refusing his repeated sexual advances.

Florida Bar rules prohibit a lawyer representing a client in a legal dispute from discussing the issue in question with the client’s adversary without that person’s lawyer knowing about it.

Lee says the lunch was an innocent get-together with a former colleague (White lost a re-election bid last year). She said the case was not discussed. She notes that she is not even involved with the lawsuit since the county hired outside counsel to take it on because of her conflict while he was still in office.

But she has also called it a “boneheaded” lapse in judgment. She didn’t know White would have a newspaper publisher stop by to witness the lunch.

Lee did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story.

Two commissioners, Chairman Al Higginbotham and Kevin Beckner, have said Lee told them the luncheon happened after a chance encounter. She says that was a misunderstanding.

White’s lawyer, Michael Laurato, has since released text messages between White and Lee that show the lunch was indeed planned, as she now says she has always stated it was. Laurato has also suggested the meeting breached the Bar’s legal ethics because he was not alerted even though the texts show Lee had been asking White about his purchase of a new home in Riverview.

Laurato said that information is relevant to a case in which the county is seeking to recoup legal expenses from White, who has said he doesn’t have money to pay them.

• • •

Sharpe has focused on one text message in particular from Lee, in which she responds to White asking her why she wants to know about the house. Lee told White that either her office or the outside counsel hired by the county to handle the case is aware of the purchase, though it was a week before it was reported in news outlets.

“The litigator got a report somehow but no problem,” she wrote in the message. “Are you my neighbor? I live off Riverview Dr.”

Sharpe said his research showed Lee’s meeting with White without his lawyer present violates accepted legal norms. Alerting him to information the county has that could be relevant to its lawsuit against White was “egregiously bad judgment,” he said, even a “treasonous act.”

“It would be in the best interest of all if this were concluded on Thursday,” Sharpe said. “It would be in the best interest of all if it were concluded before Thursday, but I don’t control that.”

No other commissioners are speaking as firmly. But within the past 15 months, two sitting commissioners, Higginbotham and Ken Hagan, have said Lee should be fired. Their rationale: repeated poor decisions.

Lee was entwined with Bean in some of the key issues that led to Bean’s dismissal. Commissioners had blasted Bean for awarding herself a 1 percent pay raise that had been given to other county executives as a recognition for making budget cuts. They cited the raise as reason to deny her full severance, since the county’s charter and state law say commissioners set the administrator’s pay.

Commissioners also faulted Bean for seeking a copy of e-mails to and from auditors who unearthed the raises, though she said she never looked at them.

Bean said she accepted the raise after getting an opinion from Lee, who also got the pay hike, that said it was okay. Lee said the raises were essentially benefits that were open to other employees. She noted that both their contracts entitle them to any benefits offered to other county workers, even though this was a raise that permanently changed their salaries, not a bonus.

Bean told commissioners she only sought the auditors’ e-mails after hearing Lee had gotten them. Lee read them and shared choice bits with a commissioner critical of the head auditor.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators subsequently wrote that Lee likely lied to commissioners when she said she saw the e-mails only after her office fulfilled an anonymous public records request. State Attorney Mark Ober, however, concluded it could not be proved that Lee lied.

Commissioners suspended Bean and Lee with pay as they initially looked into the raises and e-mail claims. They fired Bean last June but allowed Lee to return when civic leaders in the black community rallied around one of the Tampa Bay region’s top African-American government officials.

The Florida Commission on Ethics and Florida Bar are both still reviewing complaints about the raises and e-mail trolling made against Lee.

Higginbotham and Hagan declined to say whether they still feel Lee should be fired. They said they want to hear from her first. But each said they are troubled by the latest allegations.

“I do have grave concerns that there is a pattern of poor judgment on Ms. Lee’s part,” Hagan said. “That being said, I want to get all the facts and hear from our counsel before making a final decision.”

Higginbotham and Sharpe have both said they asked outside counsel Richard McCrea to be prepared to discuss the severance provisions in Lee’s contract.

Beckner said he is most troubled that Lee changed her story about the lunch meeting to him. While he has asked himself whether his memory could be faulty, he said he is feeling more confident given that Higginbotham and a television reporter both have said the same thing.

“That certainly raises more questions in my mind about what really happened and the motivation behind what happened,” he said.

Murman said she thinks Lee at least should be suspended with pay once again while commissioners figure out what happened and how to proceed. Commissioner Victor Crist, while concerned with reports about Lee’s actions, said he wants to hear the facts directly from the players before casting judgment.

Attempts to reach Commissioner Les Miller, the board’s lone African-American member, were unsuccessful. Recovering from back surgery, he phoned in during an impromptu discussion of the issue by commissioners Wednesday to urge them not to take any action until he returns.

Bill Varian can be reached at (813) 226-3387 or varian@sptimes.com.

 

 

Redistricting

Commissioner Murman is mentioned in this article on redistricting in Creative Loafing:

News

Hillsborough Commissioners agree on new redistricting map

Posted by Mitch Perry on Tue, May 24, 2011 at 3:29 PM

 

Sounding slightly frustrated with the process, the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved the idea of posting the latest of seven drawn maps of proposed new district lines in newspaper ads. The ads will inform citizens about the possible changes to those voting districts.

Hillsborough County’s Charter requires reapportionment of the County Commission’s single-member districts,1-4, every 10 years, when the U..S. Census is completed. But during their discussion today, commissioners expressed unhappiness with how the process has played out so far, though they admitted that it was too late to change it for this once-in-a-decade go-round.

There have been several public meetings about the changes, such as Monday night in Temple Terrace. The public can view those seven different maps and make written comments, but no public testimony is allowed at the meetings. There are three more such meetings in the next month, followed by two public hearings, at the second of which, on June 20, commissioners will ultimately vote on the new boundaries.

Commissioner Sandy Murman said she felt the process was a “little backwards.” She also expressed unease with the fact that the public — including Temple Terrace Mayor Joe Affronti on Monday night — has not been allowed to speak at the meetings, a disappointment shared by Commissioner Ken Hagan.

The most significant changes from the current configuration is that Districts 1 and 3, represented by Murman and Les Miller, respectively, are expected to gain more potential voters, and Districts 2 and 4, chaired by Victor Crist and Al Higginbotham, will lose voters (the idea is to keep all four districts around 300,000 people).

Also, District 3 is officially listed as a minority district seat, created to maximize the opportunity for a minority representative candidate to be elected, which also plays a part in how that line is drawn.

After staff officials said they intended in the ad to inform voters about the changes by posting one new map of the current district lines (out of seven that have been drawn up), Miller worried about how the BOCC would determine that map.

However, Commissioner Kevin Beckner wondered why that was a big deal, since that map would clearly be listed in the ad as simply a potential new map, with information containing a website and phone number where residents could learn more about the process.

But Miller countered that it did matter, since he said there was considerable confusion among the public about the change, especially since one map ripped Progress Village completely from his currently drawn District 3 seat.

That’s when Beckner burst out with his obvious frustration with the process, calling it “so flawed.” He said that in the future, the public should see all of the proposed maps concurrently, whereas right now new maps are being added from meeting to meeting.

Commissioner Victor Crist then chimed in, disputing a story published days ago in the Tampa Tribune that claimed he was making a grab for Temple Terrace in his District 2 seat, taking it out of Miller’s District 3 area.

“There’s a lot of confusion even in the media,” Crist snarled, referring to the allegation that he was trying to pick off Temple Terrace, when he said it was already in his district.

The board ultimately voted to publish an ad that contains a map of the county with firmly drawn lines representing the current boundaries, with a dotted line superimposed on it that shows one particular map, the latest version known as Map F.

After Tuesday night, when there will be a showing of the seven maps at the C. Blythe Andrews Jr. Public Library, 2607 East Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Tampa between 6 and 8 p.m., there will be two more
public viewings. They are:

* May 31, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Plant City Hall, 302 West Reynolds St., Plant City

* June 2, 10 a.m.-noon, Sun City Center Community Association, 1009 North Pebble Beach Blvd., Greater Sun City

Other key dates:

* Public Hearing — June 9, 6-8 p.m., County Center, 2nd Floor Boardroom, 601 East Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. Commissioners to discuss alternatives to proposed district boundaries.

* Public Hearing — June 20, 6-8 p.m., County Center, 2nd Flood Boardroom, 601 East Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. Commissioners to adopt district boundaries.

 

 

City of Tampa wants Jobs Program

Commissioner Murman mentioned in this Times article on the job creation program:

Tampa council member wants city version of county jobs program

By Richard Danielson, Times Staff Writer

In Print: Sunday, May 22, 2011

http://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/tampa-council-member-wants-city-version-of-county-jobs-program/1171131

 

TAMPA — Now that Hillsborough County has launched a program to help small businesses that create jobs, new Tampa City Council member Lisa Montelione wonders: Why not us?

“Our smaller businesses do need the help,” said Montelione, whose private-sector experience includes working with her fiance’s three-person construction firm. “The challenge is finding the funds.”

Council members are expected to discuss the idea at a workshop on Thursday, though Montelione already has brought it up with members of Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s administration. City officials need to look at the idea in more detail before deciding whether to add it to Buckhorn’s economic development agenda, Tampa economic development administrator Mark Huey said..

“The city certainly could do a program like that,” Huey said. “It’s really a matter of resource priority and would that be the best thing for us to do at this time, given the economic development challenges and opportunities that we have.”

Hillsborough County started its Small Business Job Creation Program this spring as commissioners discussed a way to exempt some property taxes for businesses that expand or move to the county. (Tampa has a similar property tax exemption program, approved by voters in March, in the works.)

Along with the property tax breaks, Commissioner Sandy Murman was interested in giving incentives to the smallest businesses that might be on the verge of adding employees.

“With unemployment hovering around 11, 12 percent, there’s obviously a great need for jobs in our community,” said Gene Gray, the county’s director of economic development.

Miami-Dade has a similar program, but there’s nothing else like Hillsborough’s program in the Tampa Bay area, Gray said.

Hillsborough’s program pays companies with 10 or fewer workers partial wage reimbursements for adding up to three more employees.

To receive the reimbursement, the businesses must keep the new employees for at least three months. At the end of that time, the companies can get half of what they paid their new hires, up to $3,900 per worker.

To qualify, the companies must be based in the county, must have been in business for at least two years and must agree to participate in county programs designed to foster the growth and health of small businesses. Their new employees also must be county residents.

To pay for the program, Hills­borough officials identified $500,000 that had been set aside in a pool for industry promotion.

As of mid May, 26 businesses had submitted applications for 59 new employees. Gray said the program has the funds to provide partial reimbursement for about 200 employees.

Along with the jobs program, Montelione said, her priorities include helping save the city money by getting city-owned facilities to switch over to energy-efficient technology.

“We have to bring down costs,” and being more energy-efficient is one way to do that, she said. “It used to be, ‘Oh, you’re green. You’re sustainable. You’re a tree hugger.’ No, it’s about saving money.”

As a start, Montelione said she was pleased to see the city install a motion-sensitive control for her office lights. The bad news: It doesn’t turn off the lights for half an hour.

“I don’t need my office lit for half an hour after I’ve left it,” she said. “Ten minutes is probably even too long.”

As for the jobs program, “It’s no surprise that funding is very tight around here,” Montelione said, “so I don’t know how we can make it work, but if we can find a way …”

 

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Recognizing Coach of the Year Eriksen

Coach of US Women’s National Softball Team

Commendation presented by Commissioner Murman, on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners, to University of South Florida coach Ken Eriksen recognizing him for being named coach of the women’s United States’ National Team, and congratulating him on his many accomplishments and achievements.

Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners Meeting: 5/18/2011

 

Honoring Shirley Savage

Commissioner Murman presented a special proclamation to honor
Shirley Savage at the World Trade Center Directors Luncheon on April 19.

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Proposals for Tampa Bay Water
reservoir repair as high as $170 million

By Craig Pittman, Times Staff Writer

In Print: Tuesday, April 19, 2011

http://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/proposals-for-tampa-bay-water-reservoir-fix-as-high-as-170-million/1164501

CLEARWATER — Fixing Tampa Bay Water’s cracked reservoir
could cost between $120 million and $170 million, according to the repair
proposals from three contractors that were unveiled Monday at the utility’s
board meeting.

Expanding the 15-billion-gallon reservoir — already
Florida’s largest — by 3 billion gallons would add $40 million to the tab,
engineer Jon Kennedy told the utility board. The whole package could wind up
costing even more. Or it could cost less.

“The costs may fluctuate and come back different,”
Kennedy told the board, depending on the negotiations with the three
contractors.

The big question mark, at this point, is whether it will
require raising the utility’s rates. At this point, no one knows, although last
year utility officials said it was possible.

However, in a budget workshop where rising expenses from the
desalination plant came up, several board members said they wanted to avoid any
rate hikes right now, given the region’s economic conditions.

“I can’t see how we can justify asking for one more
penny from our constituents,” Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy
Murman told her colleagues on the board of Tampa Bay Water, which supplies
water wholesale to Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough utilities to sell to
customers.

The utility opened the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir in
June 2005 to store water skimmed from the Alafia and Hillsborough rivers and
Tampa Bypass Canal. The reservoir, named for the longtime congressman from
Pinellas County, covers about 1,100 acres in Hillsborough County.

The reservoir’s walls consist of an earthen embankment as
wide as a football field at its base, averaging about 50 feet high. An
impermeable membrane buried in the embankment prevents leaks. The embankment’s
top layer, a mixture of soil and concrete to prevent erosion, began cracking in
December 2006. Some cracks were up to 400 feet long and up to 15½ inches deep.
Workers patched the cracks, but the patches didn’t last.

An investigation found water is getting trapped between the
soil-concrete lining and the membrane. As long as the reservoir is full, the
trapped water remains stable. When the utility draws down the reservoir,
though, pressure increases on trapped water in some areas, producing cracks and
soil erosion.

The cracks have not been deemed a safety hazard to the
structure, but utility officials say if they don’t fix their underlying cause,
conditions could get worse. But the reservoir’s designer, HDR Engineering, says
the problem is not that serious, and could be solved with a simple monitoring
and maintenance program that would cost less than $1 million a year.

Tampa Bay Water’s lawsuit against HDR is set for trial in
July. Utility officials are hoping any damages won in the lawsuit will defray
the cost of fixing the reservoir and eliminate the need to raise rates.

The three companies vying for the contract to fix the
reservoir are Granite Construction Co., Kiewit Infrastructure South and Skanska
USA Civil Southeast. Initially, utility officials had pegged the repair price
tag at $125 million — nearly as much as the $144 million reservoir cost to
build originally.

While the range of possible costs now exceeds that estimate,
Kennedy said those estimates also include some items that were not part of the
original request for proposals — five years of maintenance after the repair
work, for instance.

The board will hold a special workshop May 16 to hear all
the proposals, and then will vote in June on which one to negotiate a contract
with. The final vote on that contract is slated for August.

During the negotiations, the board will make a decision on
the proposed expansion of the reservoir, which will require building the walls higher.
Kennedy said the plans call for starting work on the repair — and, if approved,
the expansion — in September 2012. Officials have said the reservoir would have
to be drained for two years to complete the work.

 
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