Town of Lancaster audit causes one resident to say, 'Bad governance by the past administration'
The OSC sent a scathing report stating that town officials did not exercise due diligence when they purchased the Colecraft warehouse building in 2003.
OSC Findings/writer comments:
1.) The town invested approximately $2.5 million in a building that it no longer intends to use and, along with the county and the Lancaster Central School District, lost approximately $440,000 in property tax revenue.
2.) The board did obtain not obtain at least one independent real property appraisal.
3.) The board also did not seek a feasibility study to identify alternative building options and the associated costs until over a month after committing to the purchase of the warehouse property.
4.) In January 2004, the town contracted for a schematic design study (3) to provide a detailed analysis of the court/police facility renovation. This study estimated that the cost for renovating the warehouse building had increased from $8.5 million to $11.4 million, including the purchase price of $1.6 million, from the time that the feasibility study was completed the previous year. (And residents were initially being told by the former supervisor that the renovation project would come in at somewhere from $4 to 5 million.
5.) Whereas the town claimed in its response to the OSC findings that a resident lawsuit impeded the renovation process until 2008, the OSC found that the lawsuit was settled in 2006.
6.) Whereas the town claimed (and again claimed in its OSC response) that the former town attorney advised not proceeding with the renovation project until the lawsuit was settled, the lawsuit was about wasted money on a joint Town/Village of Lancaster feasibility study that was authorized to determine best build option after the building was already purchased. It in no way impeded project continuance.
7.) Town respondents claim much of the $2.5 million wasted on the Colecraft Building will be made up by the sale of the building. In fact, the seven year delay cost town taxpayers several million in added tax dollars.
8.) Several town residents advocated against the purchase of the Colecraft Building from the get-go and favored a new build. A former town board member, a town justice and other town officials suggested the sale of the Colecraft Building in 2007 and were rebuffed.
9.) The OSC findings were the same points residents brought forth at town board meetings over the past nine years and were told in so many words that they did not know what they were talking about.
Bad governance by the past administration, you betcha! The report can be read at http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/.../lancaster.pdf