A project to daylight Laguna Creek at the Hacienda, contemplated for several years, is now estimated by consulting engineers to cost over $3MM, nearly three times the $1.2MM indicated in the town’s most recently approved budget. The project is ostensibly a medium-priority storm drain project that favors daylighting the creek rather than repairing or rehabbing the underground culverts in the area. That daylighting is discretionary in nature; necessary repairs or remediation of the existing underground drainage system could be undertaken if desired.
The previously-estimated $1.2MM cost was to be entirely covered by federal, state and regional grants.
This project has been on our radar repeatedly over the years, particularly because during the Storm Drain Tax fiasco the town attempted to double-dip by seeking additional tax money from residents to fund the project despite it being funded by grant money (story here). Readers also will recall the attempted storm drain tax ultimately was determined by outside consultants to be 9X more than the town actually needed (that story here).
The project is reflective of the previous Public Works Director’s grandiosity and significant underestimation of costs and cost overruns – as with the Canyon Rd Bridge that was expected to cost $3MM and be completed in 2016 but has now cracked the $10MM mark – that too often paints the Town into a corner to cover unexpected costs amidst frequent laments of “we can’t stop now without returning money.”
The present Town Council has repeatedly stated this creek daylighting project cannot go over budget nor require any Town money – and must be entirely covered by grants – as was the commitment of Public Works and the Town Manager when the project was conceptually approved by the council during the most recent budget round earlier this spring.
That is a commitment to which the Town Council, Town Manager, and Public Works must be held.
The most recent staff report on this project is available by clicking here.