Letter: Holden says BOE not responsible for reimbursement delay

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Contributed photo

To the Editor:

Francis MacIlvain’s letter deserves a response.

Does anyone think Mayor Lauretti wouldn’t have been vocal about getting the projects accepted by the Board of Education (BoE) if he wanted the money sooner?

In 2015, Mayor Lauretti started complaining about the need to close out and accept the Perry Hill School project. The project predated my time on the BoE, and I had no idea the project needed to be completed, accepted or closed out.

I didn’t want the mayor to be complaining. I asked if there were other projects that needed to be accepted, and I was told the high school renovation project. That project was also done before I was on the BoE.

When the superintendent and I met with the mayor, I told him I wanted to close out all outstanding projects. The mayor rejected my offer and seemed angry I would suggest it. He said something to the effect he didn’t need that money now. This gave me the impression he likes to keep pools of money available that aren’t obvious in an audit report.

The BoE is at the mercy of the mayor for reasonable treatment at budget time. There is no reason to delay a vote on a completed project — unless that’s what the mayor wants.

The mayor has alternately blamed the BoE for the surplus being spent, and taken credit for wisely spending it down so the state wouldn’t penalize us. When we get to court, the BoE will prove they didn’t overspend the budget. I look forward to that as I am one of four individuals (and the only volunteer) who is being personally sued by the city.

Back to accepting completed projects.

PHS had a punch list with close to $140,000 of things that weren’t done or weren’t done properly.

In our first meeting the mayor tried to browbeat the superintendent and me to cover the outstanding items on the punch list from the BoE budget so the city could get the remaining reimbursement on the project. We pushed back. That work wasn’t included in our budget request, and he hadn’t funded our budget request. Adding more than $100,000 of expense so he could get reimbursed in part for things the BoE paid for with money they didn’t have wasn’t realistic.

Ultimately, the BoE agreed to cover work projected to cost $22,650, and the city agreed to cover the remaining work with a projected cost of $114,925 so the city could get the remaining reimbursement.

Fran’s attack on me in his Aug. 5, 2016 letter to the editor was based on a remark quoted in this article: www.sheltonherald.com/news/community/article/Parents-discuss-Sunnyside-roof-with-Board-of-Ed-13955755.php

Here’s a quote from that article:

“BOE Chairman Mark Holden responded to Mann’s comment. He said the board does not have involvement in Shelton Capital Improvement Projects, stating that the funds were not part of the BOE’s budget. Holden said the city uses a Public Improvement Committee for those projects, which is appointed by the Board of Aldermen.”

It’s curious the two people who have been making a big deal of the delayed reimbursement are or were members of the Public Improvement Building Committee that is responsible for managing these projects. They should have been on top of whatever punch lists existed, and gotten the work done.

Three of the four projects — the roof at Sunnyside, sprinklers at SHS and the windows at ESS — were completed in 2018 and 2019.

Mark S. Holden

Former Board of Education chair