MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The town’s consulting engineer, John Folchetti, owner of J. Robert Folchetti & Associates, has resigned.
Folchetti tendered his resignation in a Dec. 20 letter to the Town Board. He was in the middle of a four-year contract that paid him and his firm $10,000 a month to consult with the town’s engineering department and its engineer, Rich Franzetti. The contract also required that all water and wastewater capital-project work be awarded to Folchetti provided that the construction value didn’t exceed $2.25 million. The contract also allowed Folchetti to submit bid proposals for projects not covered by these stipulations.
Supervisor Ken Schmitt and Councilman Mike Barile have long opposed the contract, saying it created a redundancy since the town already had a fulltime on-staff engineer and that it circumvented the bidding process.
Two of Folchetti’s staunchest supporters on the Town Board—Jonathan Schneider and John Lupinacci—did not seek re-election and their terms ended Dec. 31.
Barile said that he admired Folchetti, calling him a “great engineer.” But he asserted that the contract was “bad” and that with new councilmen Frank Lombardi and Robert Schanil joining the board Jan. 1, Folchetti’s future tenure had suddenly become less secure.
Mahopac News reached out to Folchetti seeking comment, but calls were not returned by press time.
“He took the easy way out,” Barile said of Folchetti’s decision to resign by submitting a letter. “He would have had to re-do the contract and face the new board without his allies.
“Look, it was never a problem with John Folchetti,” Barile continued. “He is one of the best engineers I know. It was the contract.”
Schmitt also opposed the contract and would not sign checks for Folchetti for work being performed for the Water District No. 2 rehabilitation project. Deputy Supervisor Suzi McDonough signed the checks in his stead.
But Barile, who has been the councilman most vocal about the contract—it was one of the planks of his campaign platform—said the town was paying far too much for engineering services.
“We have the most expensive engineers in Putnam or Westchester counties in the last 10 years and that is fact. It was a killer for the taxpayers,” he said. “And what do we have to show for it?”
Barile was particularly irate about the recent bid process for relining the water pipes in Water District No. 2. Two of the bidders—including Folchetti—were allowed to rebid and Folchetti was given the job at a cost of approximately $590,000.
“What happened with that was a disgrace,” Barile said. “He was allowed to alter his bid. It stinks; it smells.”
McDonough said she didn’t have a problem with it and said sometimes having firms rebid was standard operating procedure.
“There was no problem when he bid on something and didn’t get the job. Now, there’s a problem,” she said. “[Town engineer] Rich [Franzetti] has done this before. He says, ‘Give me your best number’ and Folchetti came down lower. He knows a lot about Water District No. 2 and would have been the best choice.”
McDonough said she was upset over Folchetti’s resignation.
“We are losing a qualified engineer who knows the area and has done nothing but professional work,” she said. “I feel really bad that he’s stepping down and it’s a loss for the community. We like the best and now we don’t have the best on contract. I understand why he did it, but I am really sad. I think they do an unbelievably great job.”
In his resignation letter, Folchetti wrote that he believes there have been misunderstandings with town officials over the nature of the contract.
“In order to avoid similar misinterpretations in the future, and to be able to propose without similar confusion on future capital projects, we hereby resign as consulting engineers for the town, effective at the close of business on Dec. 31, 2019,” Folchetti wrote.