Wednesday, August 8, 2012

NEWS BLOG: State audit mildly critical of some Rochester practices

Posted By on Wed, Aug 8, 2012 at 2:24 PM

The state Comptroller’s Office has released an audit report on the City of Rochester containing mild criticisms over the awarding of contracts and potential conflicts of interests of City Council members.

The report says city officials did not solicit competing offers before awarding a $600,000 construction contract in the 2010 to 2011 fiscal year. The contract went to the Clark Patterson Lee engineering firm for a road project in the area of East Avenue and Broad, Chestnut, and Court streets.

In its response, the city says that competitive proposals were solicited for one phase of the project, but not another. It is common practice to stay with the same firm, the city’s response says.

We believe that this process ensures that the city obtains the best engineering services throughout the project,” because the firm already has the necessary expertise and knowledge, the response says.

And they can always find another firm if the work is unsatisfactory, the city says.

The city’s response is signed by Mayor Tom Richards and City Council President Lovely Warren.

The audit also criticizes Council members for failing to disclose their roles in various nonprofit organizations with legislation pending before Council. Several Council members are involved in nonprofit groups in Rochester: Elaine Spaull is head of the Center for Youth, and Adam McFadden leads Quad A for Kids, to cite two examples.

Council members are not required to abstain from voting on the legislation, the audit says, but they are required to disclose their interests in the contracts.

In its response, the city says that one of the instances was simply a paperwork error, and that in the future, “Council will fill out disclosure forms that will be filed with the City Clerk when an interest in legislation is noted.” The city’s law department will review the forms and decide if a Council member needs to abstain from a vote or to disclose an interest.

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