Niagara Gazette

Local News

September 3, 2013

Council majority tables motion allowing for federal reimbursement for train station work


Niagara Gazette — The company will now bill the city and the tabled measure would allow the city to be repaid after it pays the engineer, she added.

"Right now I'm out almost $1 million in accounts receivable which they owe me whether they get federally reimbursed or not," Sherwood said.

The decision to table the agreement, which is between the city and the New York State Department of Transportation, has no bearing on whether the engineering firm will charge the city but does put the city at risk of losing the federal reimbursement, Sherwood said.

"Essentially what they just did was jeopardize their federal reimbursement," she said.

Sherwood sent emails to the council members three times in August offering to explain the agreement, which has been available to the council for six months, if any members had questions, she said.

The council has recently passed similar contracts to be reimbursed for projects like the Buffalo Avenue road project without raising concerns.

The contract is a standard and routine agreement that allows the federal government, which cannot give funding directly to municipalities, to pass the funds through a state agency, Sherwood said.

"This is a standard DOT road public works contract," she said. "They sign these every year. There is nothing in there that's different from any other contract.

Choolokian said he wanted someone who works for the city, as opposed to the company the city is paying, to detail the contract for he and his colleagues.

"I don't need an explanation from the company," Choolokian said. "I need and explanation from our lawyer. He works for us."

Councilman Charles Walker and Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti voted no to tabling the agreement.

The train station has been a contentious project in the past with members of the council majority questioning the validity of spending money on a building that the city will have to pay to maintain once complete.

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