Saturday, April 19, 2014

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NY1 Exclusive: Audit Finds Wasteful Spending At Sanitation Sites

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City Comptroller John Liu says some Sanitation Department construction projects are wasting millions of taxpayer dollars, including a controversial garage on Spring Street in Lower Manhattan. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

The soon-to-be sanitation garage at the end of Spring Street in Manhattan takes up a whole block and, according to City Comptroller John Liu, is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

"Because of poor management they are losing up to $28 million with the construction of these garages. They are late. They are over-budget. It's not good for the people of New York City," Liu said.

In an audit released to NY1, the comptroller's office found the construction of multiple sanitation garages were behind schedule and cost taxpayers: one in Queens, one in Brooklyn and none more than the controversial Spring Street garage.

They were all tied to the Department Of Sanitation's engineering bureau. Each was supposed to be managed by a construction consultant.

"To hire a consultant to essentially watch other consultants or contractors that leads inevitably to a trail of waste and that's exactly what we've seen here," Liu said.

The comptroller is a frequent critic of the Bloomberg administration's decision to hire outside consultants.

Liu is expected to run for mayor this year.

The Spring Street project drew the anger of the surrounding neighborhood with some residents fighting to keep it out.

"I think it's a monstrosity. It's a beautiful...I mean this is prime real estate here," said Vicki Faust of the Canal West Coalition.

Together, the comptroller's audit says these projects were delayed by six years, and the city paid almost $14 million in additional fees to construction management companies.

Much of that cost overrun was at Spring Street.

Because the facility wasn't done on time, the city has paid $8 million in legal penalties.

In response to the comptroller's audit, Department Of Sanitation officials said they no longer oversee this type of construction. In fact, the bureau that handled it has been reduced by 50 percent.

The sanitation commissioner and the mayor's office handed off the oversight to the city's Department of Design and Construction. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP