The Mary Davis Sand and Gravel Company

By Arrowflinger Al

Remember the good old days out here in the rural counties when your commissioner could rock, grade and maybe even pave your driveway if you supported him? Well, those days are gone out here because our commissioners don’t want to go to prison. Now, there is hope and help from our good neighbors down in Augusta  with their new Public-private partnership we are  calling the Mary Davis Sand and Gravel Company. Call  Augusta Mayor Pro-tem Davis at (706) 821-1831 and you may be able to arrange what one of my neighbors got here in Lincoln County – men, trucks, trailers, supplies, fringe benefits, and heavy equipment expended fixing a private road. All for FREE!

No need to worry about tipping the Augusta workers either because they get the greater of 3 months severance pay or a full retirement if they get caught.

Even getting 300 tons of stone like THIS isn’t impossible, because the Augusta Landfill down on Deans Bridge Road has stockpiles of everything you need – sand, gravel, screenings, surge stone and even rip rap. Those can be loaded up and sent out to us through the same gate that the equipment loaned to my neighbor was.

If you look at the pictures of my neighbors’ Augusta built Project, there is even drain pipe furnished with the deal you get from Mary Davis.

You don’t even have to pay a registered contractor with expensive insurance, permits, a business or contractor’s license in your county, either. Those gifts give a pretty big bonus to your free work value  from Mary Davis.

If the equipment from the landfill is tied up and can’t get to you, then the nice sheriff down there has a guy who will meet your equipment needs with no delay stationed at the shooting range next door.

Augusta taxpayers and residents, you do not qualify for this program, so don’t attempt to call. You give but cannot receive.

We out here in the sticks thank you for your generosity and the kind treatment we get from Mary Davis Sand and Gravel.

Mary rocks our world.

 

-AG

Can Augusta Avoid Outsized Tee Center Costs?

Augusta’s Tee Shot Hits Rough
Originally posted on CityStink
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray
The author, Al M. Gray is President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns.
Part One – The Management Agreement
When Augusta’s Trade, Exhibition and Event (TEE) center was approved in 2007, prudence might have suggested that one of the first steps in the process of building the facility might have been to execute the Management Agreement in advance.  This being Augusta, Georgia, where almost nothing is done in accordance with normal business practices, the building has gotten within weeks of being used before a management agreement was even submitted to Augusta commissioners for approval. Worse, the management agreement was one of a covey of documents to flush out for approval.
A very rapid assessment of the provisions of the contracts was needed, because the proposed Manager immediately began hawking the loss of events that might result if the Augusta Commission has the temerity to actually deliberate on the terms and conditions of the entire contract documents.
The following represents a summary of the primary Management Agreement issues compiled from a review of the contract documents. This list has been provided to Commissioners and has become the basis of discussion and attempts toward a speedy resolution of major issues. The approach was to review the agreements in PDF form,  write comments, apply sticky notes that Adobe Acrobat provides to annotate documents, and then to provide a summary from the compiled sticky notes.
Solutions were designed to be the product of meeting participants and were not suggested in the summary.
The author is not a licensed attorney, auditor, or public accountant. This analysis was provided from a multidisciplinary perspective in the manner that accountants, attorneys, administrators, owners, policy makers, and media might find useful in trying to decipher the pitfalls and dangers in the agreements.
Tee Management Agreement Major Issues at 11/2/2012
  1. Differences in 2007 and 2009 Commission Approvals and these Documents. No cost cap. Unlimited conduit to Augusta General Fund.
  2. Cost shifting between agreements. Electric utility example. Beer inventory example. $300,000 a year for 50 years = $15,000,000( Augusta’s Laney Walker Improvement cost calculation method)
  3. Kitchen built under Tee Agreement where ARLLC supplies equipment switches to 50 year Conference Agreement where Augusta supplies and repairs kitchen equipment with no revenue from Conference Center.
  4.  No accounting provisions for backcharged labor to Hotels or any other credits, refunds, rebates, or other benefits going to Augusta.
  5. Cross indemnification between Tee and Conference Center – sever-ability issues. WHO IS LIABLE?
  6.  Too many ways to circumvent Annual Plan, including that an unknown, unknowable “Standard” trumps everything, including Annual Plan.
  7.  Fringe benefits and bonuses, including for LLC PRINCIPALS, are unlimited.
  8. Accounting and auditing envision most of the accounting off TEE Center books, without rights of audit to ALL HOTEL ACCOUNTING records on a real time basis.
  9. Conventions can be booked using Tee Exhibition Hall while using Conference Center where Augusta gets no revenues.
  10. When Augusta signs these contracts, it assumes extraordinary indemnity provisions immediately so that it would have to advance payments to the Manager to defend the Manager from actions by Augusta
Time will tell how many of the above issues are addressed, handled, and rectified.
-AG

Special Report: Augusta Catered to Death

TEE Center under construction August 2012

Originally posted on CityStink
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Bradley Owens
Al M. Gray, President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc. contributed multidisciplinary review techniques in support of this article.
* Editor’s note: Please click on blue text to view documents referenced in this article*
Houston, we have a problem. Rather the City of Augusta’s special counsel Jim Plunkett and his predecessors who created the TeeCenteragreements have a host of problems. Most of them center around “ Conference Center” versus “Convention Center” but the Tee Center Catering Agreement is the lynchpin. Our Augusta Today and CityStink.net investigative team now seems prescient in our dogged pursuit of the elusive kitchen equipment.
The entire TeeCenter fiasco began with an unsigned, undated “Term Sheet” that became the only partnership agreement with Augusta Riverfront LLC that was approved by the Augustacity commission. This agreement refers repeatedly to the “ Conference Center” as being subject to the preexisting agreement between the partners. It says that Augusta and Riverfront agree to “ modify their agreement for the operation of the Convention Center to include the Trade Center. ” Trouble was, there was no agreement to operate any “Convention Center”, only the 1999 agreement for the operation of the “Conference Center.”
Since then there has been considerable publicity given that the entire Tee Center, Parking Decks, and existing Conference/Convention Center are now the “Convention Center,” which furthers the misconception that there ever was a “Convention Center” before, but all the while the lawyers reverted to labeling the existing facility as the “ Conference Center.” Was it deceit or wanton incompetence? Read on and you decide.
On September 24, 2012 Augusta Riverfront LLC’s Paul S. Simon appeared before the Augusta Commission with an ultimatum – Execute a plethora of contracts, assignments, releases, modifications and other legal documents within 22 days or face cancellation of Tee/Trade Center events.Augusta then knew it was being held hostage to the lawyer’s handiwork, efforts that Administrator Fred Russell promised were nearly complete 3 years ago.
Included was the catering agreement. This document spells out that the new kitchen built in the TeeCenter, but legally carved out as the “ Conference CenterAnnex”, is to serve both Marriott hotels and the existing Conference Center. Why is the term “ Conference Center” so important? Why, it is because if the existing Conference Center agreement was intended to continue – which it was – it means that the $1.4 million of kitchen equipment that Augusta bought under a controversial change order to the Tee Center Contract will mostly be used to generate revenues for the Marriotts and not Augusta. This is because the existing Conference Centeragreement pays Augusta 5% of the rental space revenues and nothing else, including catering.
TEE Center abuts The Marriott Hotel
Unless Riverfront has quietly reimbursed the city, Augusta paid $1.4 million for kitchen equipment that it will get almost NO USE OF, because the Trade Centerspace will be used primarily for exhibits, with attendees adjourning to meeting rooms in the freely-catered Conference Center for meals. So far, our Georgia Open Records request responses fromAugusta have not shown that the Commission ever agreed to relieve Riverfront of the LLC’s responsibilities for kitchen equipment.
Under the circumstances, it would be wildly irresponsible for Augusta’s Commissioners to agree to pay for any of the kitchen equipment, particularly since some of the charges on the vendor’s invoices was to repair Riverfront LLC equipment! (Under prior agreements Riverfront owned the equipment) Where is our $1.4 million? Is there any prohibition whatsoever barring Riverfront from running a commercial catering operation citywide out of the Conference Center portion of the Convention Center, using the $1.4 million ofAugustakitchen equipment?
Worst of all the catering agreement mentions in several places that services to the hotels, to the restaurants, and to the existing Conference Center will be provided by the kitchen. There is no operational procedure manual to set out controls over food and beverage procurement, use or inventory for theTeeCenter versus these other operations. Without controls and in the midst of all of these operations that consume food and beverage, how willAugustaavoid being looted from various parties on and off the premises? Will there be household with freezers of steaks, courtesy ofAugusta taxpayers?
How many of the Marriott’s existing catering staff will be assigned to theTeeCenter contract? Since the vast majority of the catering seems to be outside of theTeeCenter, why should management level employees be charged to theTeeCentercatering agreement?
In life, timing is everything. With the unsigned, undated Term sheet that began the Tee Center project in 2007, the seed was planted in the minds of the public and the commission that there was going to be a new  Convention Center agreement. After that the branding was changed to emphasize the  Convention Center labeling, including announcements at the opening of the Reynolds Street Parking Deck and at last month’s  meeting. Behind the scenes the legal wording, finally disclosed at the September 24 meeting, narrowly focused on the Conference Center and preserved the sparse 5% payout to the city for the existing center, with no provision for catering revenues. The wording of the catering agreement is that catering only applies to the Tee/Trade Center.
Meanwhile, the Amendment to the Core Agreement extends these agreements out 50 years. Never mind a reported reduction to 15 years.
Throughout these agreements, one thing is repeatedly clear. The hotels and these agreements, which in the hands of others not as civic in their mindset as Paul Simon and Billy Morris provide an UNLIMITED CONDUIT to taxpayer funds, can be SOLD! In the hands of money hungry financiers of Wall Street, these agreements are loaded guns aimed directly at the finances of we Augustans.
How much more can Mr.’s Morris and Simon get for their two Marriott Hotels with $70 million of dedicated Augusta buildings permanently and legally bound to them with an UNLIMITED conduit into the general revenues of Augusta Richmond County?
There you have it, reader. Augustans already find themselves facing a property tax increase. How many more tax increases will be coming to feed the Tee/Trade/Conference/Convention monster?
When the finances of Augusta crater it will be in no small part because of Catering.***
BO
**Cost Recovery Analyst Al GrayPresident of Cost Recovery Works, Inc. contributed to this report.

 

Tee Catering Definitions From 9-2012 Agreement1999 Core Agreement Conference Center – Revenues

Special Report: Is it TEE Total Extortion?

Originally posted on the defunct CityStink.net site October 3, 2012

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray
The author, Al M. Gray is President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns.
 
*Editor’s Note: Click on highlighted text links to view documents referenced in this report*
In the five-year twisting tale of Augusta’s TEE Center project, we who have observed the events and decisions as they happened, learned to expect the unexpected. This didn’t keep reporter Susan McCord’s tweetfrom the September 24, 2012  Augusta Commission meeting from astounding me.
 
“Paul Simon: If documents aren’t approved by Oct. 15, (we) will have to cancel January police chiefs convention at TEE center,” she typed. My jaw dropped at the audacity of the city’s Tee Center partner suddenly resorting to what looks like a shakedown to get a management deal approved.
Simon’s Augusta Riverfront LLC is getting a $2 million a year subsidy courtesy of an unsigned, undated proposal from 2007 and that isn’t enough for him and his partners at Augusta Riverfront LLC?  Augusta has been held hostage since then. What is worse is that the City Administrator, legal counsel, and Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau might be the source of this clumsy, heavy handed way of extorting an agreement out of a suddenly reluctant Commission.

Augusta Held Hostage

It is impossible for me to accept this assault by Management Agreement on the city’s finances in silence.
·         Augusta built at least $50 million in new buildings across multiple parcels owned by this Riverfront organization and probably $20 million of existing buildings, yet now is held hostage to liens on some of them?
·         There will be hundreds of pages of recorded easements, cross easements, assignments, and agreements on these lands, meaning that Augusta has all of the costs of land ownership, but few of the packages of rights that come with land ownership. Can’t we at least get a fee in lieu of taxes?
·         The unsigned, undated partnership agreement from 2007 says throughout that Riverfront is responsible for kitchen equipment while saying that Augusta is responsible for the kitchen space. Augusta has not been able to show where its City Commission has ever voted to change the partnership agreement, only that Augusta approved the change order to add $1.4 million of equipment to a project that Riverfront agreed to participate in as a builder and operator. Where is Augusta’s money?
·         The September 24 meeting was the first the Commission as a body had seen of the catering or management agreements and they were presented with an ultimatum that the documents have to be approved within 22 days! Five years of dithering and now the people of Augusta are presented with a manufactured emergency? Why? Keep reading!
·         Can we say there might be C-O-N-S-P-I-R-A-C-Y within Augusta government? Darryl Leach was the General Manager of the Augusta Marriott.On September 24, Paul Simon announced the Tee Center is now the AUGUSTA CONVENTION CENTER.The agreements that Augusta has been commanded to execute are now with an entity called the Augusta Convention Center Management LLC. This is where things get really get good. Darryl Leach is now the General Manager of the Augusta Convention Center. In fact, it seems nearly all of the former Marriott Augusta Staff, Don Fuller, Janet Pierce , Greg DeSandy  and  Sharon Koon, are now on the Augusta Convention Center Team!

The Augusta Convention Center
Who gets to decide if all, any or part of these employees – whose salaries and fringe benefits likely exceed a million dollars – who used to be Marriott costs become Augusta costs? The Management Agreement says the  Augusta Convention Center Management LLC “… shall have discretion and control, free from interference, interruption or disturbance, in all matters relating to management and operation of the TEE Center” and “Manager shall select, employ, promote, terminate where appropriate, supervise, direct, train, and assign the duties of all personnel which Manager reasonably determines to be necessary or appropriate for the operation of the TEE Center” This Management agreement and the catering agreement provide capability for 100% of former Marriott employees to shift onto the Augusta payroll! It sure looks like Augusta will have no rights to contest this cost shift once this agreement is executed
(*article continues below)
The Augusta Convention Center

·         Consultation with the Georgia Secretary of State Corporations Division does not show Augusta Convention Center Management LLC as being registered to do business in Georgia. Augusta is being demanded to execute an agreement with an entity that does not yet exist?
·         Augusta is forced to deposit $250,000 at the beginning of the year into the operating account, but if the balance in that account falls below the amount to fund that account for the next 90 days, Augusta is required to contribute from GENERAL REVENUES enough funding to meet those expenses without regard to how soon the next $250,000 funds injection is required!!!!! The original partnership agreement limits Augusta funding requirements to $250,000 for operations and $100,000 for capital, yet this management agreement calls for an unlimited pipeline of funding from Augusta? Who authorized or negotiated that?
·         The unlimited ability of this  Augusta Convention Center Management LLC to establish what costs are is not limited by the Annual Plan that the Augusta Commission approves, because “the Annual Plan will be only a planning tool.” Also, shouldn’t references to any Annual Plan limits be clearly defined not just as the types of costs to be included, but the amounts as well?
·         The management agreement provides for annual audits only, with no real-time or even monthly reporting. How can Augusta monitor these cost reimbursable agreements without continuous reporting and the strongest of audit rights? Shouldn’t these agreements be made subject to open records requests? Maybe the Augusta Chronicle can help us! No?
·         The management agreement called for the CVB to begin marketing for the Convention Center with execution of the construction contract to the tune of $350,000. However, the use of these funds by the CVB to market the Center before it opens was against the city’s own ordinance.
Summary
The Tee Center management agreement looks to have morphed into an agreement that allows most of the administrative staff of the Augusta Marriott to be shifted to Augusta’s Conference Center expense. There are unexpected liens on some of the property under the Center and a parcel that was not liened never was conveyed prior to construction. The Augusta Administrator promised the agreement was nearly complete over 3 years ago and now has provided the city commission with just 22 days to review and approve the contracts. The entity that Augusta is contracting with may not exist yet. The operating expenses, capped by the 2007 partnership agreement, are now unlimited conduits to the general funds of the city. The contracts fail to provide real-time program management and accounting.
***************
The Augusta Commission should walk away from these agreements and put the management and catering agreements out for bid. Otherwise outside counsel from far outside of Augusta needs to be brought in to renegotiate the management agreement to conform to model contracts from other cities.
Beyond this, it looks to me that Commissioner Bill Lockett’s idea of a forensic audit or a county-funded investigation of these transactions needs to be revisited. The project was funded by sales taxes, there are ample unused sales tax revenues in the coffers of Augusta, and legal costs are legitimate uses of sales tax money.
Can all of these issues and the progression toward the renaming of the TEE Center as the Augusta Conference Center be just incompetence?
Can Augusta afford an unlimited pipeline to its general revenues?
I don’t think so.***
AG

Special Report: No R.W. Allen GuaranTEE?

Originally posted on CityStink
July 25, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Bradley E. Owens
Al M. Gray, President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc. contributed multidisciplinary review techniques in support of this article.
Augusta Today member Dean Klopotic submitted a Georgia Open Records Request seeking the R.W. Allen LLC (RWA) billings for the Tee Center related contracts they are performing. The Law Department of the city of Augusta issued a response which included RWA invoice number 24 representing costs through March 31, 2012. Our investigating team has since obtained RWA invoice number 26 from other sources in city government and turned the documents over to cost recovery accounting specialist Al Gray for analysis and review.
RWA boasts of having an “Open Books Policy” but their Tee Center project manager Jim Cely declined to allow us to visit their offices to view supporting documents to the billings obtained through the Georgia Open Records Request.  RWA CEO Rick W. Allen, currently a candidatefor Georgia’s 12th Congressional District, had previously pledged to allow Mr. Gray access to the billing detail records. Despite being assured they would cooperate we were not allowed to see the documents and instead, Cely gave instructions to direct inquiries to Augusta Administrator Fred Russell….the same Fred Russell who has displayed a pattern of withholding VITAL information from Augusta Commissioners on the TEE Center and its companion parking deck across the street.
The Tee Center Contract with R.W. Allen LLC is a Construction Manager at Risk guaranteed maximum price (GMP) contract. Under a fast track, a cost plus contract with a GMP, the Construction Manager sets its fee, general conditions (overhead) expenses, and other costs necessary to construct a total facility.  These contracts are or can be comprised of multiple subcontracts and work with the CM (RWA in this case) self-performing portions as if they had been subcontracted. In other words, they can hire themselves to do certain parts of the job as the Construction Manager.
Once the drawings and design work is 75% complete the GMP was officially set at a price of $29,700,000 and accepted by the Augusta Commission. There have been two change orders (“change orders” are contract modifications which usually are increases in the cost of the fixed price cap due to unforeseen “changes” that affect the construction itself) executed which bring the total price to $30,113,215.  So as you can see, the agreed upon price of the TEE Center construction was $29,700,000.00 but due to the two “change orders” the final projected price tag (there could be more change orders before it is completed so I say “projected”) is now a cool $30,113,215.
Since the more detailed supporting documents for RWA’s invoices (which are pretty vague) are not likely to be in the possession of the Augusta government and therefore open records accessible and the honcho over at RWA, 12th District candidate R.W. Allen, has already broken his pledge to allow us access to the documents (a politician breaking a pledge to the tax payer? SAY IT ISN’T SO!); here are the questions we would pose to Mr. Russell and to Program Manager Heery International to find out the details of these invoices for us, the lowly tax payer footing the entire bill of $30mil and change.
Has there been Double Billing of General Conditions Costs?
Let’s be clear here, these are complicated contracts but the billing is not if you are willing to bear with me and see the questions we are asking.
Article 7.4.1 sets out the components of the contract price and these are repeated in Exhibit A in the contract. to be paid by Augusta, so a cost has to fall into one of those two categories and be authorized by the terms of the contract to be billed. To cover the contractor’s overhead costs, called “General Conditions” in construction language, RWA put in a General Conditions Guaranteed Maximum cost of $1,082,670 in the contract and in Exhibit G.
The capped GC cost is described this way on page 56: Items that are included within the General Conditions Costs for which the Construction Manager is entitled to no additional compensation include without limitation:…..viii “That portion of insurance GL and Auto Builders Risk and P&P bond premiums that can be directly attributed to this Contract for Construction”…..ix. Fees and assessments for the building permit and for other permits licensesand inspections for which the Construction Manager is required by theContract for Construction to pay.
Looking at the latest payment application available, on line 2 of the Form G703 appearing on page 2,
we find an amount listed for General Conditions costs of $1,082,475, which is only $195 less than the stated limit in the contract. Augusta is making progress payments, which total $697,917 (less 5% retained by Augusta) through this invoice, based upon component invoicing and RWA labor charges. In addition to the GC costs, we found $167,585 charged on page 2, line 19 of the G703 schedule for P&P Bonds.
Based upon the contract having capped GC costs to INCLUDE the P&P bonds, separate invoicing in this manner appears to be a duplicate charge, especially since the contract also says this: “The overhead and profit component for any change includes the cost of bonds and insurance”which seems to preclude the additional billing of P&P bonds separately in this manner. The P&P bonds for the subcontractors are in their OWN costs.
Besides the P&P bond issue, there is the same issue with the $48,961 of permit costs on line 18 of the payment request.
These two issues relating to costs billed separately that appear to be already covered by capped General Conditions total $216,546. It is recommended that these costs be reallocated against the capped GC costs of $1,082,670, or line 2 on the G703 billing schedule of values.
Extension of General Conditions without Required Change Order?
Accompanying payment request number 24 was a document entitled “Augusta TEE Center Contingency Log” which includes a $16,393 item labeled “extended builders risk cost due to delays. There was an invoice supplied showing the builder’s risk policy was being extended to October 2012.  ”The contract says this – All adjustments in compensation or extensions of time shall be by change order (page 38)”
No change order was found to extend the duration of the project, so shouldn’t this charge be covered by the capped General Conditions that includes builder’s risk insurance?
A much more important and broader issue, is whether RWA intends to collect extended general conditions for the approximately 6 months greater time until completion of the project to include the more costly GC costs, like supervision. The project duration in the contract was set at 24 months, yet the project is on the 26th monthly billing.
Does the charging of builder’s risk premiums for project delays mean that there will be a costly claim for extended General Conditions at the end of the project? Will extension costs be continued to be charged against the contract contingency, instead of being authorized by change order, as the contract apparently requires?
Lack of Pricing Details limits Change Order Price Analysis?
Augusta Today and City Stink contributor Lori Davis submitted a Georgia Open Records Request on another matter concerning the TEE center kitchen equipment that was added to the RWA contract as Change Order 1 to increase the Contract Price to a total of $29,276,987. Included in the information provided  was the pricing from the subcontractor, itemized by equipment price, but unsupported by cost versus overhead and profit analysis of the pricing.
The contract says this in Article 15:“If and to the extent the change involves work of one or more subcontractors the overhead andprofit component for subcontractors shall be fifteen percent 15 and theoverhead and profit component for the Construction Manager shall be seven percent 7 of the amount allocable for subcontracted work.”
Unless there is additional analysis not presented with the City’s response to the GORA request, how can RWA tell whether the 15% limitation on overhead and profit has been met with respect to Change Order 1? Is sufficient cost information being obtained on other project changes to meet the contract limitations on combined overhead and profit?
Construction Equipment Rentals in Steel Costs?
Within the supporting backup for Payment Application 24 for the steel cost category was an invoice to RWA for construction equipment rental.  The contract has this inclusion within the definition of General Conditions costs: “xviii Rental charges for temporary facilities and for machinery equipment and tools not customarily owned by construction workers”
Since the equipment rentals seem to be within General Conditions (Overhead), wouldn’t such costs be covered by the allowed 15% overhead and profit markup allowed on work self-performed by the Contractor?
Summary
  1. Aren’t $216,546 of bond and permit costs separately billed also within the capped General Conditions expense in this contract?
  2. Did the billing of $16,393 for extending insurance coverage to October 2012 presage a claim for an additional number of months of general conditions expense, including Contractor Supervisory labor, and unforeseen costs.? Without a change order, should this item have been charged to contingency?
  3. Is there sufficient cost detail provided by subcontractors to assure that contract limitations on maximum, combined overhead and profit can be verified?
  4.  Are construction equipment rentals separately billable from overhead and profit markups?
  5. Will Augusta review the contract to assure that all contingency and allowances are recaptured by the city at project completion on this major contract? Others?
We expect that the Mayor and the City Commission will assure that these questions are answered.***
B.O.


**Augusta Today members Al Gray, Lori Davis, and Dean Klopotik also contributed to this report**
 
**Below is the GMP Construction Contract between RW Allen Construction on the city of Augusta for the TEE Center:
RWA GMP Contract

Simon Says He is Cheaper; Watchdogs Say “CAP It!”

Friday, July 20, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Bradley Owens

Elections have had October surprises but lately anytime the Augusta Richmond County meets with a parking deck agreement on the agenda, watch for the wild, woolly, and unexpected.

The February meeting saw a last minute compromise whereby proposed parking deck manager Augusta Riverfront LLC (ARLLC) was conditionally awarded a management agreement with the condition that the land they own under the Reynolds Street Parking Deck (all but a small parcel) being transferred free of the almost $7,000,000.00 in liens that bedeck the title to the land bank

The Augusta-Richmond County commission meeting on Tuesday, July 17, 2012, saw a morning pre-meeting surprise, when ARLLC’s Paul Simon offered a cost comparison between numbers he suddenly provided and those submitted by Ampco Parking, who had been recommended for award of the management contract for the parking deck based upon its competitive low bid. (It is noted that Administrator Fred Russell directed the award to ARLLC, who was not part of the bid process, after notifying Ampco that its bid was rejected.)

There is no surprise that Simon says his numbers were $14,000 lower, I mean what did you expect him to say, “We are bilking you?”

The surprise was that he took the risk of putting numbers to a combination of two dissimilar deck agreements, one cost-reimbursable and the other a net lease deal, with the gamble that the commission would take his last-minute, arguably improperly-disseminated (through Fred Russell) gambit at face value and approve the management agreement.  All of this happened despite ARLLC’s failure to get the liens released hence clearing the title for the land bank and doing as they promised.

The public needs to take his bet and counter with one of its own.

Open Challenge to Paul Simon

Dear Paul,

Since you are pleased to present such a reasonable budget, let’s cap it at the numbers shown. We agree that you really don’t need the following to make this a profitable deal, so let’s drop these items from your earlier proposal;

·        $250,000 referenced in the capital budget section,

·        The liability insurance cost reimbursement that would have been covered by the Ampco fee

·        Overarching power to expend Augusta’s money as you see fit

·        The ability to define “costs” in whatever manner you deem expedient

·        Latitude to assign high-priced employees to the deck deal

·        Two fees totaling $50,000 (Ampco’s was less than $18,000)

·        The ability to exceed the budget with impunity (Ampco was prohibited from doing that, weren’t they?)

Those of us in the community have read repeatedly in ARLLC partner Billy Morris’ newspaper for the need to have sound financial policies in government operations.  That being the stated position of the “Big Boss” we are quite sure you will see the need for a procedures manual by which Augusta’s auditors can judge compliance with some contract mandated standards, won’t you? Such a manual was going to be required of Ampco so certainly you are prepared to give us one, right?

Yes, Paul, we are pleased that you have put forth these solid numbers and are sure that you would be willing to share those for the Conference Center Deck, so we can see about how the second $25,000 fee is accounted for. We are also interested to know about how the costs relating to the 150 ground level spaces in the Reynolds Street Deck that you own, subject to liens, are treated. Our “back-of-the envelope” calculations brought that cost, based upon your numbers, to about $47,000 or so a year.

Mr. Simon, if you are willing to cap the costs at the numbers shown, eliminate all of the provisions in the management deal that make it a blank check to your LLC and dispense with those pesky liens, I think we can make a deal.

Because then, and only then, you just might be on the same footing as Ampco.***

B.O.


**View Paul Simon’s “comparison” below**

ARLLC – Budget Comparison

TEE Parking Deck Exclusive: Augusta’s $714,357 “Incidental” Cost?


May 31, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray

  
The story Fred Wrestles, Augusta Gets Decked?, published on Tuesday, May 29, 2012, offered a detailed and documented exploration of a story of rejected parking management bids, a questionable management firm selection, and a detailed comparison of Augusta’s bid contract with the administrations proposed contract. The questions and issues documented required a lengthy recitation to convey the magnitude of the subject. It was an epistle for those liking details.

Today’s key word is “incidental. What is “incidental” within the Reynolds Street Parking Deck (RSPD) agreement? Can “incidental” be measured? Is “incidental” subject to debate?

What brought this subject to the fore was how the RSPD deck agreement deals with costs relating to the ground floor of the parking deck structure owned by designated manager Augusta Riverfront LLC specifically Article 3, Section 3.1 which includes this:

“The parties acknowledge that certain property and services paid for by Owner (Augusta) editor’s unitalicized textand required for the operation of the RSPD will also benefit Manager’s (LLC’s) editor’s unitalicized textground level parking facilities located underneath and adjacent to the RSPD. Such property and services include, but are not limited to (editor’s emphasis), traffic control gates and related equipment, lighting, and services of a toll booth operator (the “Incidental Services”). The Incidental Services would be required for the operation of the RSPD whether or not the Manager owned the ground level parking facilities, and allowing Manager to benefit from these Incidental Services does not materially increase the costs to Owner. Accordingly, in further consideration of granting air rights and easements to Owner for the construction and operation of the RSPD, Manager shall have the right to utilize the Incidental Services for Manager’s ground level parking facilities located underneath and adjacent to the RSPD, so long as such use does not materially increase the cost to Owner.”

Whoa!

This caused a scurry to do some math on the RSPD 2012 Budget dated 8/29/2011  (see last page of linked documents). The budget totals $206,370. The Deck structure (ground floor and floors above) has 650 spaces, of which 150 are property of the LLC, for 23% of the total spaces in the deck structure. The LLC percentage of the total deck structure, 23% times the total budget, is $714,358!!!! This is “incidental?” Is it not material?

To be clear, the legalese also essentially defines the “RSPD” as the ground floor parcels that Augusta bought, plus the structure above the ground floor. We laymen think the entire building structure from the foundations up as the “parking deck.” However, the annual budget didn’t restrict the numbers to the Augusta-owned portion,did it? Doesn’t the language of the agreement allow the LLC to bill Augusta for its Fee and costs of the entire structure, including the ground floor it owns? The language allows the LLC to bill Augusta for the toll booth operator, while labor costs are the bulk of the budget. Shouldn’t there be language clearly prorating the costs instead of provisions that costs  “are not limited to” those cited, which seems to open Augusta up to a cornucopia of costs?


With labor costs that are the vast majority of the agreement, the probable allocation of shared employee costs from the LLC’s hotel operations, further allocations between the RSPD and Conference center deck, and, finally, the need to further allocate labor costs between levels of the RSPD, and only an annual audit allowed to verify the costs, aren’t the phrases “incidental,” “not limited to” and “ materially increase” plain dangerous to the taxpayer? Did the length of the agreement get reduced to five years, as indicated to the Augusta Commission in February?

It is a $714,358 question and then some. “Incidental” can be costly.***


— Al Gray
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***Do you have a story idea, a tip, or would you like to write for City Stink? Then please contact us at: citystink@gmail.com***

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TEE Parking Deck Exclusive: Fred Wrestles, Augusta Gets Decked?

Augusta, GA

By Al Gray
*editor’s note: supporting public documents cited in this article are available to view via hyperlinks (orange text) and in an addendum at the end of this article*

Our team of community watchdogs at Augusta Today and CityStink.net have not let sleeping dogs lie with the Tee Center and Reynolds Street Parking deck deals that were conditionally approved by the Augusta Richmond County last February 7. Readers might recall that the Augusta Commission then approved a deal for Augusta Riverfront LLC to manage the new Reynolds Street parking deck, contingent upon the land for the parking deck being deeded to the city land bank and being cleared of all liens. The decision was reached in a last-minute panic to get something passed to relieve the Commission of what was a very hot potato of an issue – how a $12 million parking deck got built on land the city didn’t own.

Has the land been deeded to the Land Bank and have the liens been released by Wells Fargo, the bank that holds the liens on the land under the Reynolds Street Parking Deck (RSPD)? The answer is NO, according to review of the Augusta Richmond County Clerk of Court deeds of record for the property as reported on the Georgia Superior Court Clerk’s Cooperative Authority. The deeds on the GSCCA site are certified to be county-good through May 23, 2012.

Augusta Today and CityStink.net contributors, armed with documents secured via Georgia Open Records Act Requests, the city’s excellent on-line document archives, and the help of several officials inside Augusta government, have taken scrutiny of the proposed parking deck deals to unusual lengths to get the answers to more questions.

Were the contracts for management of the decks put out for bid? Yes.

The City Procurement Director issued Request for Proposals RFP Item #11-087, Managing Augusta Parking Facilities, in January 2011 with a due date for bids to be opened on Friday, February 18, 2011. That the RFP covers the RSPD and the Parking Deck at the Augusta Marriott is established in the Introduction Section I on page 10 of the RFP with “The Procurement Department….is soliciting proposals to manage and operate the Augusta owned parking facilities located on Reynolds Street in Augusta to include the Parking Deck at the Augusta Marriott and the new Reynolds Street Parking Deck currently under construction”

Was Augusta Riverfront LLC the low-bidder? The LLC did not place a bid in response to RFP #11-087, covering the two Augusta owned parking decks between 9th and 10th streets in Augusta.

Augusta Riverfront did not appear as a party on the Pre-Proposal Conference Sign In Sheet of January 28, 2011. It does not appear on the Cumulative Evaluation Sheet. There is no indication that Augusta Riverfront LLC submitted a bid of any type in response to RFP #11-08.

If another firm offered an acceptable bid was it recommended and its proposal accepted? The bid of Ampco Parking Systems of Houston, Texas was recommended for acceptance, but all bids were rejected with the knowledge of the City Administrator. 


Mr. Richard Acree, Jr., Assistant Director of the Augusta Facilities Management Division wroteIt is…..my recommendation that we award the contract for Bid Item 11-087 to Ampco Parking Systems….” After an exchange of emails on August 5, 2011 between Augusta’s then Recreation Director Tom Beck, Procurement Specialist Nancy Williams, and Administrator Fred Russell, Mr. Beck wrote a letter to Ms. Williams on August 8 directing her to reject all bids associated with RFP #11-087. 

Are there costly inconsistencies between the sample contract included in the RFP that Ampco Parking System accepted and the one with Augusta Riverfront LLC that was recommended by the City Administrator for adoption by the City Commission? Apparently. They include:

1. Management Fee.

Ampco quoted a fee for the TWO Decks in the amount of $17,964.00. The fee in the management agreement in 3.1(see page 6) for the Reynolds Street Deck alone with the LLC is $25,000.00. After recovery of the $50,000 rental fee paid to Augusta under the Conference Center Deck agreement on page 3, the LLC gets another $25,000.00 fee.

There is a recommended contract in the RFP which appears to be largely based upon the previous conference center contract with Republic Parking. To be fair, the RFP agreement would have given the management company an incentive fee of 25% (up to 45% based upon increments of $100,000) of net revenues over $150,000 for both decks (page 33), while Augusta gets 100% of the RSPD net revenues, if there are any, with Augusta and the LLC management group sharing net revenues after the rental sum and $25,000.00 fee on the Conference Center Deck.

Why did the City Administrator agree to pay more fee on the RSPD than its recommended bidder quoted for TWO decks? 


2. Liability Insurance

The Deck RFP Addendum 1 stated “Liability Insurance is to be paid out of the management fee.” However, the RSPD agreement in 9.4 on page 17 states…” insurance premiums and any cost or expenses with respect to the insurance described in this Article shall be an Operating Expense of the RSPD.” Liability insurance is listed in the Article at 9.1.

Why did the conditionally awarded agreement with the LLC shift the liability insurance costs from the management firm to the city?

3. Operating Expense Limitations

The designated contract within Augusta’s RFP 11-087, page 32 of the RFP package, limits operating expenses to enumerated expenses and “other expenses as authorized and included in an operating budget approved in advance by AUGUSTA.” This provision was accepted by Ampco. The agreement conditionally accepted by Augusta with the LLC contains no such requirement, broadly defining “operating expenses” outside of the Annual Plan to include “(n) any other expenses incurred in the operation of the RSPD that would be considered operating expenses under GAAP.” (see Page 3) GAAP means Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

Why doesn’t the agreement with the LLC limit what can be considered an operating expense to those expenses enumerated in the Annual Plan and authorized by Augusta?

4. Expenses Allowed Under the Annual Plan

Ampco submitted a bid compliant with Augusta requirements that included an annual budget. This budget shows expenses of $21,557. The management fee of $17,964.00 was added to this balance to arrive at total expenses of $39,521.00. Since the Ampco proposal covers both parking decks, adjusting the expenses to a factor of 0.54 (the ratio of RSPD parking spaces to total parking spaces in both decks) produces $21,341.43 in total non-labor operating expenses for the RSPD for the first year.

South Augusta community activist Juanita Burney submitted a Georgia Open Records Act Request to the city’s Law Department seeking the annual plan for the RSPD as submitted by selected management firm Augusta Riverfront LLC. After some delay and a follow-up request, she received documents including undated cover letters from Augusta Riverfront LLC,  accompanying one 12 month budget for 2012 dated August 29, 2011 and an 11 month budget dated January 26, 2012.

The August 2011 budget was used for comparison purposes, as it covered 12 months and was closer in timing to the Ampco budget. The LLC budget for expenses totaled $83,818.00, but $29,505.00 related to Augusta-provided utility costs and credit card fees which were outside of those listed within the RFP. This brought the total costs down to $54,113.00, which were higher than the Ampco adjusted total by $32,771.66. Bear in mind that the Ampco agreement only limited the manager to the specific types of expenses listed, but not totals, so actual costs may have exceeded the budget for Ampco.

Did the Augusta Administrator consider the budgeted expense differential between the rejected, but deemed compliant Ampco proposal and the much higher Augusta Riverfront budget? If not, why not?

5. Labor Costs Under the Annual Budget

Ampco’s labor budget was $212,225.00, plus labor burden of $44,444.00 for a total of $256,669.00, with the RSPD portion (0.54) totaling $138,601.26. Augusta Riverfront LLC’s labor budget was $95,150.00, plus labor burden of $27,402.00, for a total of $122, 552.00, or $16,049.26 less. Most of the extra cost from Ampco was the inclusion of a Supervisor and from unusually high worker compensation costs.

As noted above, Ampco would seem to have been limited to the costs enumerated in its budget by the terms of the proposed agreement. The LLC can add costs that fall under GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) Also, the language of 5.3 on page 8, of the RSPD Management Agreement states that the Manager determines the personnel necessary to operate the RSPD and in paragraph (f) on page 9 states that the Manager can assign “shared employees.

Are there sufficient contract controls over the assignment of additional staff and shared employees for Augusta when the Manager has this level of discretion? 


6. Operating Cost Advance 


The terms of the RFP, and accepted by Ampco, states in Article 3, paragraph 4 “The Operator shall be granted an operating fund advance equivalent to 2 months operating expenses, to be credited against the first two months of operation. “ The terms of the LLC agreement on page 11, in 6.2, provides for an ongoing 90 day operation expense fund balance.

Is the fund balance sufficiently offset by the LLC’s funding of the other deck agreement? 


7. Capital Budget 


The RFP and Ampco proposal contained no separate capital budget. The LLC budget included a schedule entitled “Equipment – Startup Cost,” which included a Riding Sweeper at an estimated cost of $59,000. The schedule also included additional cost of Freight and Tax. The Conference Center Deck Agreement in Paragraph 4 (page 5) states “With respect to any equipment owned by by Landlord but used for both the RSPD and the Demised Premises, Tenant shall pay a fair rental rate for the use of said equipment, as set forth in the Annual Plan in effect for the RSPD Management Agreement” No credit was found in the proposed RSPD budget for that sweeper, so perhaps it will be used only in the RSPD.

If the capital equipment was purchased via an Augusta bank account with Augusta funds, wouldn’t the purchase be exempt from (sales) tax? Will the prorated fair rental costs for RSPD capital equipment be included in the Annual Plan?

8. Credit Card Fees 


The initial Annual Budget for 2012 proposed by the LLC includes an expense item for credit card fees. However “Operating Revenues” includes discounts for credit card fees, which is consistent with the RFP sample contract.


**Could this give rise to double reimbursement of credit card fees?

Summary 

Augusta had a long running contract with Republic Parking that seems to have been the basis for its sample RFP contract. Ampco Parking did not find this contract objectionable and accepted large portions of it. In general, why are the agreements the City Administrator recommended so much more flexible in terms of internal controls? Will the relative infrequency of reporting and manager control over revenues and expenses provide Augusta with sufficient information to assure that potential conflicts of interest, alluded to in Article 5.1.b of the RSPD Management Agreement, have not arisen? Did the Administrator use the Ampco bid terms, conditions, and costs to negotiate the best deal possible for Augusta?

Questions abound with these deck arrangements. We could ask questions approaching the number of parking spaces in these parking decks. The Augusta Commission should have asked them before rushing to approve the parking deck agreements, too. ***


Bradley Owens

*Contributing to this report were Cost Recovery Specialist Al Gray, with South Augusta Community activist Juanita Burney and Harrisburg Community activist Lori Davis.