LFC Comments by Brian Massie:
Thanks to a Lake County lobbyist for sending us this information. Quite frankly, we are shocked at the apparent mismanagement of taxpayers’ funds by the Laketran officials.
Here is the original article we wrote on February 20, 2020:
The want a new headquarters and originally estimated that the cost would be in the range of $10,000,000.
The new and improved estimate for this state of the art facility is now $17,500,000!
When the architect, R.L. Bowen, ran the new numbers, of course, they wanted an increase in their fees. The Laketran board will be voting on the $250,000 increase in fees.
We will attend the next Laketran Board meeting on June 28th at 4:00 pm, and will be very interested in hearing their justification for spending 75% more for their new headquarters.
We will report to our readers, so stay tuned.
Here is the resolution authorizing the CEO to amend the contract with the architect, R.L. Bowen.
Here is Ben Capelle’s , CEO of Laketran, “Briefing Papers” giving his board justification for approving a $250,000 increase in the architect’s fees. If the Board approves the the new contract on June 28th, the new total will be “not to exceed” $1,458,819
Here is the response we just received from Ben Capelle, CEO of Laketran:
Thanks for reaching out. Based on the magnitude of the change, I can certainly understand why you would have questions about the change in budget and I firmly stand behind my statement about our agency being as transparent as possible. You are welcome to attend our meeting, in person or virtually whichever you prefer, if you would like virtual and would like to speak let me know so I can get you the zoom link, otherwise you will be able to find the meeting on our YouTube page.
I will do my best to summarize how we got to where we are below.
- When the Board discussed the idea of putting another levy on the ballot we discussed the need to expand the building to facilitate the extra Dial-a-Ride service we would be putting on the road if it passed.
- In December of 2019 we hired CT Consultants to provide us with a conceptual budget based on a scope me and my staff came up with based on our needs to house more buses and employees. We know how to run an efficient transit system and while we have completed many building projects, we felt a project of this scale would be better estimated by a professional architecture end engineering firm.
- In roughly February of 2020 (I would want to check my notes to be 100% sure) CT Consultants recommended the $10 million ($9 million planned construction with $1 million construction contingency) dollar budget to us. They used our scope, but did not complete any detailed engineering, they used their industry knowledge and what they could see on the surface of the project to provide us the estimate.
- We then went through a procurement process to hire the architecture/engineering firm that would actually do the detailed design and engineering, using a budget of $10 million. That firm was/is R.L. Bowen, who has a specialization completion this type of transit work.
- They provided a report to the Board in April of 2020 (again I would want to check to make sure my date is correct) indicating a budget of just under $18 million. Which is how we got to where we are today.
- Because we provided a budget of $10 million to R.L. Bowen and they have indicated the project is just under $18 million, they feel they are entitled to additional funds.
As you and I have talked about the project in the past, from the beginning we have been committed to find other funds to complete this project. I am happy to say we are still able to deliver on the commitment and the project (even at the higher amount) is fully grant funded, and we will not need to use any levy funds to complete the project.
We have used the same scope the entire time, the budget disagreement arose from the two different firms having a difference of opinion. With R.L. Bowen being a specialist in this type of work, we have relied on their opinion over CT Consultants.
The project is very complicated and the path we have taken to get here has been a little bumpy, so I am happy to go over all of it in more detail with. I am available before the Board meeting at 3:30, or by phone or in any other way that would be convenient to you. If you have any additional questions you are always welcome to reach out. Thanks!
Ben Capelle | CEO
We thank Mr. Capelle for his quick response.