According to the court ruling by St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Jim Hill the city is also required to pay interest for the money it owed the two companies.
“The city of Pell City shall pay to Golden Excavating, Inc. $49,965 for the work performed by said company for the benefit of the city, along with $3,997 in prejudgment interest applicable to said debt,” Hill wrote in his Sept. 10 order. “That the city of Pell City shall pay to Goodgame Company, Inc., as assignee of Hanson Pipe and Precasts LLC, $11,803 for the materials provided for the benefit of the city, along with $944 in prejudgment interest applicable to said debt.”
According to the order, the city is also required to pay court costs.
The city filed a claim in St. Clair County Circuit Court seeking a judgment about whether it owed the companies money in March, after the companies demanded payment.
In its complaint for declaratory judgment, the city disputed it owed either company money, even though the council approved to pay both companies at its Feb. 28, 2011, meeting.
In April 2011, the council rescinded its vote, and an $85,000 grant the city secured for the work and material was never used. The vendors were never paid for the work completed or for the materials provided for the completion of the road project.
In an affidavit filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court, Mayor Bill Hereford said he did not have any direct dealings with either company.
“If I somehow through others conveyed the impression that the city of Pell City would pay these claims, I did not do so intentionally,” the Sept. 7, 2012, affidavit signed by Hereford states. “Certainly, the improvements resulting from Mr. Golden’s work and the pipe supplied by Hanson have improved city property and, certainly, they are entitled to be paid.”
At Monday night’s council meeting, the council unanimously approved to pay both companies as directed by the court.
“I hope nobody has any heartburn over this,” Hereford said last week about the order. “I hope we can get this behind us.”
About a year-and-a-half ago, questions surfaced about an $85,000 state grant from the County and Municipal Capital Improvement Trust Fund - and the invoice that accompanied the grant request.
The grant was to be used for improved access to the Icademy on the Jefferson State Community College campus in Pell City.
The invoice that accompanied the grant request was from one vendor, Goodgame Company Inc., but another vendor, Golden Excavating Company Inc., actually performed the work.
When the council rescinded its vote for payment to the companies in April 2011, questions surfaced as to whether the city had possibly violated the state bid law, which mandates projects costing more than $50,000 be bid out.
“No public work as defined in this chapter involving a sum in excess of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) shall be split into parts involving sums of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) or less for the purpose of evading the requirements of this section,” states the Code of Alabama, Section 39-2-2.
Hereford told the city council during the Feb. 28, 2011, council meeting that it was just as easy to pay the bills and stay below the $50,000 and get every penny on the project.
“What we did…was to make sure we segregated these sums of money from one another so they do not rise above the level of being bid, and what it amounts to as far as the project is concerned over there is that everything will continue to move along,” he said.
Last year, James Lloyd Golden, owner of Golden Excavating Co., told The Daily Home he provided a $75,000 estimate to the city for work on Veterans Parkway.
Hereford told The Daily Home in April 2011 he never saw the invoice or estimate from Golden Excavating Co.
Golden said he gave the invoice to St. Clair County Engineer Dan Dahlke, who designed the road.
Dahlke told The Daily Home he believes the invoice was hand-delivered to City Hall.
Golden later billed the city $49,965 for the work, which is under the threshold for bidding a project out. At the time, Golden told The Daily Home he would absorb the loss.
Although the council voted to return the $85,000 grant, the council approved a resolution to reapply for the grant money, so the city can use the money as matching funds for a federal grant it was awarded in 2010.
John Rea, the city’s attorney, said the new County and Municipal Capital Improvement Trust Fund Grant request that was resubmitted is still pending.
Contact David Atchison at email@example.com