Commentary by Admin:
Our friends at the Chesterfield Taxpayer Alliance once again have done an outstanding job of showing how Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors Politicians want to raise your taxes when there is plenty in the bloated budget to cut, without firing teachers or policeman, as they always threaten.
Why do they always try and scare monger us with cuts in education and first responders, when executive salaries and many other things could be cut and trimmed.
And it appears there is lots of Payola and Friends with Benefits (not the dating kind, but the financial kind) going on in the politics of the county government. Will the corruption and looting of the taxpayer never end?
Here is the article:
Did you know what your County spent?
Article by the Chesterfield Taxpayer Alliance
The Taxpayer remains ever vigilant.... and for good reason. Why does The Taxpayer need more transparency from the county and school budget and procurement offices?
WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN COST YOU!!
DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THESE CHESTERFIELD EXPENDITURES AND ACTIONS?
SCHOOL DIVISION (CCPS)
1. Paid $533,309 (average more than $476 per hour) to two former superintendents(Bosher and Cannaday) whose contracts required they be available for consulting 10 days per year for seven years after they retired. Kept them on school’s payroll issuing bimonthly checks although they were no longer employees, but independent contractors. Value received by taxpayers for this expense: nothing that can be documented. There were “some conversations” according to school officials. Wouldn’t you like to get paid for conversations after you retire?
a. Amount to be paid to Superintendent Newsome under similar arrangement? More than $310,000($775+ per hour or 163% of hourly rate paid to Bosher and Cannaday) based on Dr. Newsome’s 2013 salary. Actual payout will be higher after adjustment for raises between 2013 and his retirement.
b. Superintendent’s contract also permits him to “moonlight” at consulting, writing, lecturing or public speaking while under contract to Chesterfield.
c. Your School Board’s response when this was publicly called to their attention: According to Chairman David Wyman, “… he is worth every penny to our school system and to our community.”
d. Your School Board’s response when Dr. Doland and Mr. Wyman were asked to pull extension of the Superintendent’s contract from the December 2013 consent agenda for taxpayer to publicly address failure to revise contract language to require performance of the consulting work prior to payment: NO!
2. Continues a Supplemental Retirement Program (SRP) no longer justified and no longer affordable. This locally funded program provides a benefit of 175% of final annual compensation in addition to regular retirement. This benefit can be withdrawn in as few as five years.
a. SRP Trust Fund Contributions from FY 2005-2011 totaled $60.5 million. MGT of America “auditors” (term used by CCPS) reported that the 2009 unfunded pension benefit liability of $59 million represented a significant challenge to the financial status of the School Division. “The increased number of participants over the next few years will dramatically increase the cost of this program,” auditors reported. By July 2012 the unfunded liability had grown to $72.5 million.
b. CCPS has the richest retiree health benefit in the region according to Superintendent Newsome and is committed to “maintain the richest benefits for our employees and retirees.”
c. In 2013 the School Board chose to ignore the auditors’ warning when it voted to continue the program for all except new employees joining the system July 1, 2013 or later.
d. Like County employees, CCPS employees essentially pay nothing toward their retirement. The General Assembly required local taxpayers to fund raises to cover the changed procedure requiring contributions to the Virginia Retirement System to be deducted from employee’s checks instead of being paid by local governments. Thus, 5% raises were granted to cover employees’ contributions. Future percentage “merit” raises will cost taxpayers more, because base salaries increased to fund retirement contributions.
e. From information provided by County staff in 2013 during budget discussions:
f. Local share of the Virginia Retirement System’s needed funding is about $540 million for schools alone without including the Supplemental Retirement Program unfunded liabilities.
g. Retirement of 180 employees generated liabilities of almost $19 million in 2011 alone. “Auditors” reported that as baby boomers reach retirement age, the increased number of participants will dramatically increase the cost of this program.
THE SRP PROGRAM IS NO LONGER AFFORDABLE AND MUST BE DISCONTINUED.
3. Spent almost $872,000 in 2011 for licenses, workbooks and technical support for intensive reading program to help students reading two or more years below grade level. Spent approximately $16,000 for evaluation of program’s implementation. FINDING: 23% of middle school and 42% of high school licenses not used. WASTE: Approx. $211,700 (more than $878 per license)
4. For many years CCPS’ annual operating budget has included a$100,000 donation to the Chesterfield Public Education Foundation, a 501(c) (3) organization created in 1989. Last year, the amount was $75,000. Based on available records, CCPS has contributed approximately $1 million.
a. CCPS’ contribution in 2011 represented more than 35% of total contributions and grants received. The Foundation paid its Director more than $93,200 plus benefits in 2011. The School Board may, but is not required to contribute. If the Board holds the opinion that any year’s appropriation is not sufficient to make the contribution, it may be discontinued.
b. Why isn’t it a higher priority to hire a teacher or two with this money than to donate it to a charitable foundation?
c. A citizen’s request to publicly address this issue by pulling the appropriation from the Board’s consent agenda in December 2013 wasdenied by School Board Member Dr. Doland and Chairman, Mr. Wyman.
5. The Superintendent engaged the services of a Richmond advertising firm to assist in developing a “brand” for the school system. Schools are not selling Coke in a competitive environment; they are operating schools with mandatory attendance requirements, so why spend scarce money on developing a “brand”? The Superintendent broke the procurement rules when he engaged the company, received an invoice and then began the paperwork for the purchase. The contract was cancelled after paying the firm more than $13,000. Value received: Nothing documented.
6. The Superintendent invited Bill Bosher (former Superintendent of Chesterfield Schools) and Bob Mills of Moseley Architects to a closed School Board meeting in July 2010. There reportedly to discuss possible uses for the former Clover Hill High building, the duo pitched their consulting proposalfor the 21st Century Academy based on a document with that date addressed to Dr. Newsome. PROBLEM: The Code of Virginia does not allow closing public meetings for that purpose plus these consultants who would later receive a contract that should have been competitive were given special treatment that prejudiced other potential consultants. RESULT: Dr. Newsome violated the Freedom of Information Act with respect to attendance at closed meetings and violated Virginia procurement rules.
a. After announcing its intention to award the contract to DecideSmart, a firm in which Bill Bosher and Lane Ramsey (former Chesterfield County Administrator), are partners, CCPS was reminded by the County Director of Purchasing that it had no authority to do that.
b. Subsequently, the purchase was advertised very briefly and then awarded to DecideSmart. The report produced was several months late, full of errors of all kinds, contained 42 pages of material from DecideSmart (including proposals related to programs already established by the Commonwealth of Virginia) and 46 pages of a photocopied report prepared by CCPS itself. Several other pages of the report contained duplicate information. For this, taxpayers paid $30,000, including $2,500 to reimburse Moseley Architects for items not listed in the purchase order.
NOTE: The County Director of Purchasing found it necessary to reiterate to CCPS the importance of having its personnel avail themselves of Purchasing User Training offered through Chesterfield University to “reduce the instances of unauthorized procurements.” No record exists that training was done.
7. CCPS had students turn out the lights during the school day to help save energy, but failed to properly consider energy costs for past school designs when evaluating proposals and selecting architects to design new schools and additions.
a. “Chesterfield’s two newest high schools have the highest energy costs per square foot, partly caused by their designs.” The average costs per square foot for Matoaca High and Cosby High exceeded that of Midlothian High by 66% and exceeded the average of the other eight high schools by 31%.
b. David Wyman, vice-chairman of the school board … said, “I wouldn’t call it a design flaw because you have trade offs when designing buildings. We seek a certain academic climate …” –but at what cost to taxpayers, Mr. Wyman?
c. The “energy manager for the county government and Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) replied, ‘Buildings that are not energy efficient are an extravagance that we cannot afford.’ He declined further comment.” (Chesterfield Observer, New high schools have higher energy costs, July 22, 2009)
8. The School Superintendent’s 2013 Leadership Conference on poverty cost more than $32,000. Instead of using County facilities for the conference, CCPS rented the Sheraton Park South and incurred substantial costs for use of meeting space and microphones. Meals were provided when they were not necessary given the time of the sessions. The speaker’s fee was $19,000.
a. CCPS has a contract with University of Richmond to rent space and cater meals.
b. These expenses are not necessary when there is space in Chesterfield’s buildings.
c. If CCPS truly values the teachers and the students, why not pay the best Chesterfield teachers who teach local students from low socio-economic (poverty) areas to share their insights with fellow teachers? Local experience should be more valuable than experiences from long ago and far away.
9. CCPS spent several hundred thousand dollars on lighting for auditoriums at two newly opened middle schools and said they were “just finishing the schools.” Did they plan to be in the dark in the auditoriums for the first two years? Audit reports have documented change orders for almost $167,000 caused by errors/omissions by the architect/engineering firm. Why are taxpayers paying for architect’s mistakes?
10. CCPS purchased more than $4,000 worth of new furniture for someone at the Fulghum Center and then told employees to put buckets under leaks and cover computer and other equipment to protect it from the leaky roof.
Would taxpayers have considered it a priority to fix the roof first?
11. CCPS paid more than three times for essentially the same high school design. Matoaca, Cosby and Clover Hill High are all built from the same basic design. These designs cost taxpayers millions. The designs cost almost half a million extra because two contracts were let for part of the same design services at Cosby High. The supposed credit claimed by CCPS was never documented. Documents do exist to show the double charge. Outside auditors verified that the credit was never documented.
CCPS never explained why it did not choose to purchase the plans when Matoaca High was built even though it knew that other high school construction was planned soon.
12. CCPS fails to manage trailers parked at schools. Even a quick comparison of the number of trailers parked at schools with the seats available and being used at each school will engender numerous questions. See examples below from data for the 2013-14 school year. Obvious question: Why is there so much disparity in the number of trailers relative to the number of seats available and needed?
Robius Elementary has 113 empty seats and NO trailers.
Harrowgate Elementary has 102 empty seats and 4 trailers.
Watkins Elementary has a 253 seat shortage and 3 trailers.
Chalkley Elementary has a 146 seat shortage and 13 trailers.
Overall capacity existing in elementary schools: 27,003
Overall capacity needed in elementary schools: 25,997
Manchester Middle has a 112 seat shortage and 20 trailers.
Falling Creek Middle has a 4 seat shortage and 14 trailers.
Swift Creek Middle has a 15 seat shortage and 3 trailers.
Salem Church Middle has 236 empty seats and 9 trailers.
Providence Middle has 225 empty seats and 3 trailers.
Midlothian Middle has 300 empty seats and 7 trailers.
Matoaca Middle (both campuses) has 366 empty seats and 3 trailers.
Overall capacity existing in middle schools: 15,470
Overall capacity needed in middle schools: 13,914
Matoaca High has a 66 seat shortage and 5 trailers.
Cosby High has a 275 seat shortage and 9 trailers.
Clover Hill High has a 125 seat shortage and no trailers.
Chesterfield Community High has 295 empty seats and 9 trailers.
Thomas Dale High & Annex has 553 empty seats and 6 trailers.
Manchester High has 256 empty seats and 5 trailers.
Overall capacity existing in high schools: 19,931
Overall capacity needed in high schools: 18,471
NOTE: Calculation of functional capacity in schools recently changed. New capacity figures are shown here. I am trying to get documentation on why and how calculations changed. Matoaca High, e.g., was more than 120% of capacity, but is now shown as 104% because 270 seats were added to functional capacity.
ELEMENTARY, MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOLS ALL HAVE MORE THAN ENOUGH SEATS ON A COUNTY-WIDE BASIS—The seats are just not located where the students are.
The obvious question is how much can CCPS do to match the seats needed with the seats available to avoid unnecessary classroom additions and new buildings so money can be used for revitalization of older schools?
1. Chesterfield spent approximately $1 million on consultants to help staff develop a new comprehensive plan that was essentially thrown in the trash. County staff then developed a replacement comprehensive plan with helpful guidance from the Planning Commission. That plan was adopted.
Who was held accountable for the waste of money on the consultants and for writing a contract that did not require an acceptable product to be produced before the consultants were paid? NO ONE it appears. Accountability—what’s that?
2. Chesterfield has its own egregious example of a double dipper ($2 million + full county retirement and apparently 48 years of commuting at public expense), so be careful how you criticize the city of Richmond. On Halloween 2013 Channel 6 news reported on double dipping teachers in Richmond. From their news report: “Bringing people back for decades after they retired is unacceptable,” Gray said.What are you going to do about it?
a. Government watchdog Paul Goldman said the problem is that the public accepts the practice of retirees going back to work and “double dipping” the system. “The reason they keep trying to get away with this is because they think you don’t care and so far they’re the ones laughing all the way to the bank, aren’t they” Goldman said. He called upon the citizens of Richmond to hold their elected leaders accountable for their actions.
b. A former Chesterfield fire chief who retired in July 1997 after 30 years of service is being paid approximately $100,000 on a part-time job he has held since his retirement about 17 years ago. His title is Assistant to the County Administrator. The County also has an Assistant County Administrator and three Deputy County Administrators.
c. His part-time salary was more than $142,000 as recently as 2008. Taxpayers have paid him approximately $2 million in addition to full retirement over the last 17 years on this part-time job. According to county documents he is assigned a county vehicle that is justified based on the statement: “I was issued a county vehicle in 1966.”
d. Concerned citizens who disagree with this blatant favoritism for former highly placed County officials need to inform Supervisors and the County Administrator and demand this money be spent more responsibly.
3. Chesterfield leased County softball facilities at Daniels Park and Warbro Athletic Complex to a private entity that will profit from use of those facilities at unfavorable terms for taxpayers and failed to properly execute its responsibilities thereby permitting waste, potential fraud, and abuse to occur.
a. Following actions are representative of many concerns that arose as a small group of concerned citizens investigated and advocated for the taxpayers as the initial lease of public softball facilities was renewed for the next five years.
b. County cancelled a 2010 concession contract that paid $16,000 annually two-thirds of the way through the contract and “negotiated” a payment of $6,000 for the eight months the contract was in force.
c. County turned these concessions over to a firm with NO CONTRACT in place for the remainder of the year and got no payment in return. LOSS: $10,000
d. County turned nine public softball fields over to a firm with NO CONTRACT in place and got nothing for four months despite having a contract awaiting approval that required $65,000 annual rent payments. LOSS: $21,668 Liability exposure with no written contract for more than 10 months: Unknown
e. County, contrary to terms of contract awaiting approval, continued to pay water and sewer charges that were lessee’s responsibility. Charges from 2010 through 2013 were not collected until July 2013 after public questioning.
f. County allowed Dominion Virginia Power to turn a Chesterfield account for electricity over to a collection agency because the firm operating public park facilities with no contract had not put the meter in its name as the contract required.
g. County failed to collect 2011 non-resident fees from lessee until July 2013.
h. County did not properly monitor lessee’s performance, kept almost no records of events with financial implications, and did not require performance of improvements required by the lease.
i. County files contain no valid attempts to develop pro forma model of potential for revenue by lessee as basis for valuing softball facilities.
j. County replaced the initial lease (rent of $65,000 annually) with a five-year lease specifying rent of only $30,000 per year. County files contain no documentation giving rationale for reducing rent. Replacement lease also had more favorable terms and fewer required improvements.
LOSS OF RENT COMPARED TO FORMER CONTRACT: $150,000 over five years
THE TAXPAYER BOTTOM LINE: Failure of County to properly manage the process of soliciting proposals and administering the former lease, failure to properly develop a business case for leasing public facilities, and failure to properly evaluate relevant information and properly solicit and evaluate proposals for a second lease cost taxpayers far more than the $30,000 loss in annual rent.
COUNTY AND SCHOOL DIVISION (CCPS)
1. VEHICLE USE AND COMMUTING
A 2013 final internal audit report reveals that 74 of 88 vehicles purchased for use 1. VEHICLE USE AND COMMUTING by the Police Departmentwere vehicles that are usually put into service one to two years after the purchase date. The same audit report noted that 17 vehicles were put in service two years or more after the purchase date. Three of those 17 vehicles were put in service five years or more after the purchase date.
Reportedly, a County employee takes a large ring of keys and goes to the storage lot to start those vehicles just sitting there over the years. Would you buy a vehicle several years before you needed it and leave it sitting in your driveway?
a. County officials this year advised a taxpayer that problems with date entry had caused the report of a vehicle sitting for five years before being used, and that the Police Department had changed procedures. The final audit was issued in February 2013. A draft report was circulated among county managers prior to publication of the final report. Why didn’t managers respond to the auditors to correct this information before the report was released?
b. Apparently, circulation of unfavorable information among the citizens gets attention that audit reports do not.
c. This audit report identifies on page 7 potential cost savings of $24 million for 454 vehicles that appear to be underutilized.
d. The report stated: "Commuting privileges could not be evaluated during this audit so the volume of underutilized vehicles is most likely understated.”
e. Despite an official County Policy (# 5-1) requiring Department managers to justify each employee's use of a County vehicle for commuting to and from work and to identify actual times the employee was called out after hours, when a taxpayer requested information related to commuting vehicles, the County’s response was that it would cost $480 to pay for search costs. The audit reports that most departments are ignoring the policy (only 11% complied with auditor’s request for such information), and the data have not been collected as required. The County is reporting 26 commuting vehicles (including 4 commuting outside the county), based on the mostly incomplete data collection.
f. Apparently, neither the failure of County Departments to provide data to internal auditors nor their failure to comply with written policies is a priority with the County Administrator. More than one year after revelation of the serious noncompliance with County policies in a critical area, the County continues to insist that the taxpayer write a check for $480 to pay for compiling commuting vehicle information that the County is required to develop, but has not.
g. If the County Administrator does not support the work of internal auditors and does not require compliance with written policies on matters involving millions of dollars spent on vehicles—a publicly sensitive topic involving assets widely vulnerable to abuse—then why should the taxpayers continue to fund internal auditors?
h. When the County Administrator does not know how many employees are commuting daily and why, but he knows he needs a bigger budget, are you convinced there is no where else to look for savings?
TAXPAYERS SHOULD INSIST ON AN INSPECTOR GENERAL WHO REPORTS DIRECTLY TO THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS. (Internal auditors are of limited value because they are subject to undue influence from those being audited because those same people write the auditor’s paychecks.)
CCPS REPORTS 177 COMMUTING VEHICLES, but no records to support the justification for individual commuting privileges.
a. Responses to taxpayer’s requests for documents revealed that general justifications for commuting have not been reviewed since 2010. Those documents included incomplete analyses based on faulty data that does not withstand examination. General justification for granting so many commuting privileges included costs of not commuting that cannot be substantiated.
b. Data provided on emergency callouts were from 2009. Specific examples using a locksmith living in Powhatan County were incomplete. It appeared that three locksmiths commute daily (240 days per year) to respond to an average of approximately 2.25 emergencies per month (2009). No one did the math to identify the cost of having three people commuting 720 days per year to answer approximately 27 calls per year. The “Efficiency Committee” did calculate that it cost 35 cents per mile for employees to commute in light and heavy trucks and vans, but used 50 cents per mile as the figure for reimbursing those using a privately owned vehicle to answer an emergency call. When you do the study, you apparently get to pick the numbers you need to prove your chosen result.
c. From documents associated with the same audit report already referenced, “School Board will not participate in study” appeared under the heading “Justifications received from Departments.” The reason for declining should be apparent.
2. LAND PURCHASES FOR SCHOOLS
a. While appraisals are sought for some properties, others that cost much more lack appraisals. Although the Real Estate Assessor valued a property purchased as part of the site for the new Clover Hill High School at $37,200, the School Board approved paying more than $500,000 for it, including the cost of options.
b. Who can justify writing a check for $5000 to extend an option and then paying twice the option price for 12 acres of land that another County Department valued at $37,200? Apparently your local government can.
c. The County still owns 6.644 acres next to Cosby High School that was not needed according to some official documents, but was purchased anyway. It cost taxpayers approximately $227,000. Taxpayers also paid for an expensive road on the Cosby High site that appears useful primarily to developers.
3. APPARENTLY TERMINATED LAND PURCHASE ASSOCIATED WITH RENOVATION OF MATOACA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WITHOUT DOCUMENTED JUSTIFICATION
a. As documented in the landowner’s personally delivered letter dated November 12, 2013 to Superintendent Newsome, a proposed purchase of land reportedly needed to renovate Matoaca Elementary was initiated in 2010 by CCPS and apparently terminated in September 2013 with no formal notification to the landowner.
b. In 2012 CCPS reported that the School Board desired to purchase the property for expansion purposes.
c. The landowner signed a contract presented by the County on September 21, 2012.
d. At least three separate times this proposed land purchase was submitted for consideration as an agenda item by the Board of Supervisors. Three times the agenda item was pulled with no clear documentation to establish the reason.
e. On August 1, 2013, CCPS wrote “… my board has not decided what they want to do. By that I mean weather (sic) to build new on a new site or rebuild on the existing site. Stay tuned.”
f. On September 12, 2013, CCPS wrote, “… the school division is not currently interested in purchasing the (name deleted) residence …”.
g. The current presentations on the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) from CCPS show that the renovations to Matoaca Elementary will be done on site. The landowner’s property was previously described as necessary for the expansion/renovations.
h. Superintendent Newsome has yet to respond to the landowner’s November letter asking that CCPS either purchase the property or return the contract she signed.
THE TAXPAYER BOTTOM LINE: CCPS and the County have wasted enough time and money to have already paid for this small piece of property reportedly needed for renovations to Matoaca Elementary. The proposed CIP contains $3 million in planned spending for the next two years.
There’s a lot more; but, these bureaucrats want to keep you in the dark. The Taxpayer will no longer be led by one or two budget directors with a candle in the dark morass of each budget cycle. We will let the sunlight into the process and finally see where the county checks go and for how much OR we will replace our representatives to do so.
READ MORE ABOUT CHESTERFIELD COUNTY WASTE AND TAX SCHEMES HERE