Why is Flint not paying their lead pipeline replacement contractors fully?
It appears that the city of Flint is not taking advantage of all them money available to them to pay the contractors who are replacing the lead pipelines in the city.
The Detroit News is reporting about a letter sent from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality which is stating that the city of Flint has drawn only $27.2 million of the $167 million in state and federal funds that have been available to Flint since early 2017.
That means they have only drawn on approximately 16% of the money available. What is even more perplexing is the fact that even though there is this large pool of taxpayer money to draw from to pay their contractors they are telling their contractors that they can only make partial payments on their invoices.
In the article it is being reported that DEQ Administration Deputy Director Amy Epkey wrote in the letter:
Recently the state was notified that the city is issuing partial contracts to SLR (service line replacement) contractors under the premise that the state is withholding funds from the city. This not accurate
What is going on here, is there some other reason other than incompetence?
The DEQ Administration Deputy Director Amy Epkey also stated that even after eighteen months after the federal government authorized the money for Flint, the state still:
continues to remain concerned by the slow rate of reimbursement requests
Flint’s chief finance officer Hughey Newsome said in a statement that:
the delays are due to staffing shortages within the city, ones that have existed “since emergency managers slashed positions
Also in that DEQ letter to the city they stated that approximately $1.26 million of a $5 million advance given to the city in 2016 for service line replacement is “unsupported by proper documentation”. The letter also went on to question whether Flint is “pricing its service line replacement correctly so it complies with a $5,000 limit per household”.
We really must ask the question what is going on in the city of flint.
There are an estimated 18,000 lead service lines in the city to be replaced and approximately 6,630 pipes, which is approximately 37% have been replaced in Flint through June 21.
If this information is correct and there are no reasonable reasons why they are not drawing on all the funds available to them and there are many claims that are “unsupported by proper documentation”, we can now see why the city needed an Emergency Manager in the first place.
Is that fair to say?