Inconvenient truths on costs

By From page A18 | March 03, 2013

Measure I deserves your no vote: It is ill-conceived, and overly expensive. The surface water project will exceed the cost estimates presented to the electorate, therefore, costs and rates will increase significantly. CDM/Smith’s Jan. 23 letter to the water agency stated among its reasons for withdrawing, “RFP requirements may drive the project cost to exceed (the agency’s) budget. Examining the details of the benchmark project in documents released on Dec. 21 … raises a question as to public acceptability of RFP compliant proposed prices.”

What does this mean? The letter in its entirety could be construed to mean a variety of things about the qualifications or motivations of whoever developed the benchmark treatment system. What is apparent are higher project costs and higher future rates. Did the City Council know about this when it developed the language for Measure I? Notice that the language in Measure I is vague on project specifics and costs. Proposed project costs started falling once West Sacramento looked attractive.

Granted, CDM/Smith has agreed to continue interest in the project; the operative statement in its Jan. 29 letter is “… (the agency) is considering changes to the procurement process.” There is the open door for higher costs. Has the water agency told CDM/Smith that the cost issue will disappear after the vote on Measure I? Perhaps this is the reason the agency is down to two bidders and the fourth refused to participate!

So after spending more than $7 million on the description of a benchmark project, it is possible that no one will bid on it. Changing the agency’s project budget is the only way to keep interest in submitting a bid.

CDM/Smith states, “Since starting to track this important project in 2009, we have provided extensive input as to the method of procurement…” and then references the Stockton delta water supply project as an example of a successful project, accepted by the public. The owner’s representative must have had another objective in mind, as he specifically excluded aspects of the Stockton project that could save money, and included elements that increased costs. Vote no on Measure I; insist on public accountability.

Walter E. Sadler


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