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Bridge project audit flags contractor oversight

NEWFANE—The state has accepted a plan of action from the town after discovering that a local engineering vendor failed to properly vet subcontractors with the state debarment list.

The board had hired SVE Associates to act as project manager to oversee the rebuilding of the Lynch and the Hunter Brook bridges. As part of its work, SVE was supposed to have checked with the state’s debarment list to ensure any contractors it hired were not on that list.

The state asserts that the firm did not do that.

“Because of this, during our federally required single audit, we were issued a finding,” Administrative Assistant Shannon Meckle wrote in an email to The Commons.

The state required Meckle to write a plan of action. She wrote that the town “will implement corrective action to ensure that all contractors are not suspended or debarred before employing their services."

“If the state had not accepted my plan,” Meckle wrote, “the town could, in theory, have lost funds for FEMA projects.”

As Meckle explained to the board at its Oct. 5 meeting, even though the problem was the contractor’s oversight, the state “says it’s the Selectboard’s responsibility to make sure they’re doing their job, and they didn’t.”

Thus, the state reprimanded the town for the error, but Meckle assured the board the town lost no grant money.

The bridge job’s project manager at SVE Associates could not be reached for comment.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #331 (Wednesday, November 11, 2015). This story appeared on page D2.

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