"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Two sets of books

In 2004, ODP along with then-Minister of Pavement Tom Rideout — oh, the good ol' days — made a very modest Provincial Roads Program announcement for the Premier's Humber West district:

Premier Danny Williams, MHA for the District of Humber West and Tom Rideout, Minister of Transportation and Works, today announced road work for the district under the provincial roads program.

"I am pleased to announce that government has allotted $80,000 to complete the replacement of the Pinchgut Brook Bridge in the District of Humber West," said Premier Williams. "This is part of government’s overall commitment to a safe and reliable provincial infrastructure. Funding for this project will come out of the $30 million Provincial Roads Improvement Program announced in this year’s provincial budget."
Just $80,000 out of $30-million. The benevolent one wasn't favouring his own district unduly; nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the cost to the good people of Humber West for his benevolence, was that out of 39 districts for which PRIP announcements were made in 2004, their good district, their great and beautiful district, ranked 36th in the dollar value of those announcements. Or, measuring from the other end, the fourth-lowest announcement by dollar value.

Well, at least that's what they announced.

What they actually spent was a different story. A remarkably precise $1,737,213. That makes it the second-highest PRIP expenditure in any district in the province that year.

So, why the discrepancy between the modest public announcement and the eventual expenditures?

Were they just holding back? Curiously, unlike many other districts, there was no double-announcement for Humber West: the modest $80,000 plan was trumped up for political advantage, but there was no follow-up announcement later in the summer, as per customary pattern ("letting the people know after") announcing the awarding of the contract.

Was it a cost overrun? If so, at over 2100%, it would be the Mother of All Cost Overruns. OK, maybe not the Mother, but certainly the Aunt, or the Female Cousin.

Was there some creative allocation of funding envelopes?

What gives?


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