Part of both proposals put forward by Supervisor Michael Benson (New Lebanon) at the Airport Committee meeting on Wednesday was an estimate for construction costs of $1.1 million. Committee chair Art Bassin (Ancram) kept returning to this figure, wanting to know if $1.1 million was real or not. Two other estimates for construction costs mentioned at the meeting were $2.8 million and $3.4 million--the latter attributed to C&S, the consulting firm that has been working with the county on the airport. When asked how his estimate could be so much lower than the $2.8 million estimate, Benson responded, "I can't describe $2.8. That was not my plan."
By a weird coincidence, the difference between $1.1 million and $2.8 million--$1.7 million--is exactly the same amount as the difference between Benson's bid (he's the president of BCI Construction) on Hudson's waste water treatment plant and the next lowest bid back in 2009: "Bids for wastewater treatment project are in." The Register-Star reported at the time: "While the price of the bid from BCI Contracting is attractive, coming in $1.7 million lower than the next lowest company bid, BCI did not submit the required itemized list of costs that added up to its final bid of $8,794,479." The 2009 article quotes DPW superintendent Rob Perry as saying, "The bid sheet had 60 individual items to address . . . they need to have their information in by the end of the week." Apparently this happened, because BCI got the job.
Sam Pratt alluded to this past history on Wednesday night when he recalled that the waste water treatment plant had started out costing an estimated $8.8 million and ended up costing $12.4 million. When quoting these figures, Pratt graciously deferred to Rick Scalera, now Fifth Ward supervisor, then mayor of Hudson, saying, "Correct me if I'm wrong." Predictably, Scalera corrected him, asserting that the $3.6 million increase in the construction costs was the consequence of change orders made to enable the waste water treatment plant to process leachate.
Assuming that what Scalera called leachate is the same thing that Perry calls septage, the City of Hudson made $161,982 processing the stuff from various sources in 2013. At that rate, the $3.6 million should be recovered in a little more than 22 years.
COPYRIGHT 2014 CAROLE OSTERINK
Photo of Michael Benson borrowed from his company website