Here are the salient points in the audit:
- In 2000, the city hired a consultant to perform a feasibility study related to the completion of the Phillips to the Falls project. The consultant was paid $127,310 in 2001-2002.
- The same consultant was hired again in 2003 to perform work on the railroad relocation project. The consulting firm was paid $127,737 in the years 2003-2004 for design work on Phase 1 of the project related to an underpass at Pasley Park and adding siding tracks at Benson Road.
- The funds to pay for the consultant services above came out of the second penny sales tax fund.
- In 2006, the city received a congressional earmark of $40 million dollars for the relocation project. A railroad relocation fund was established to track project expenditures. This is how it works: Congress appropriates the funds; the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) awards the funds; the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) oversees the funds and verifies compliance with federal regulations; the City of Sioux Falls is the user of the funds.
- An environmental assessment must be completed in order to use the federal funds. Herein lies the problem about accesssing the federal funds.
- From 2006 through 2008 the city paid $592,023 out of the railroad relocation project fund for property appraisal fees, legal services, and title searches.
- The Environmental Assessment essentially stopped in 2008.
- A Financial Review of the Railroad Relocation Project was conducted by the SDDOT Audits office in 2009. Eight audit issues were outlined in the report along with corrective actions. See page 4 of the report.
- In 2009, the fund was in the red by $200,000 due to questions by the SDDOT regarding which expenses were eligible for reimbursement for the project.
- On February 11, 2011, the SDDOT reimbursed the city $124,000, leaving a deficit of $74,994 in the railroad relocation fund to date.
- The City Finance office is showing $36,538,098 in anticipated federal revenue in the railroad relocation fund.
- A comprehensive management plan by SDDOT, the city, FHWA and the consultant was to be completed by March 2011. Is it done yet?
- A deficit in the Railroad Relocation Project Fund.
- No draft environmental assessment report to date. The City can't access those federal funds until the ES is completed.
- Public outcry regarding the Canton siding alternative option.
- Public outcry regrading the main switching line near Brandon.
- BSNF says it won't contribute any money to the project saying it is a "city project."
There must be a reason why this project has not moved forward. No cooperation from the railroad who doesn't see this as their project. Land use issues relating to the relocation of those rail lines haven't been resolved since the beginning of the project back in 2006. Is this a project that is meeting it's demise because there were no palatable options back then and there still aren't any now?