“The puzzle pieces didn’t match,” Councilman Donnie Todd told The Daily Home this past weekend. “It was in our best interest to delay (the payment) and let the grantor approve the changes.”
Mayor Bill Hereford had secured the $85,000 state grant to improve access to the Icademy, but he failed to inform his council he had received the grant until questions surfaced about payment for an invoice pertaining to Veterans Parkway.
Hereford told the council the grant money was in the bank and all the funds from the grant would go toward construction of Veterans Parkway, a road that will provide access to the new St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital, the Col. Robert L. Howard State Veterans Home and ostensibly to the Icademy adjacent to Jefferson State Community College.
Last week, council members voted unanimously to rescind a motion they approved Feb. 28 to use grant money to pay for work and materials used on Veterans Parkway.
The council rescinded the Feb. 28 motion without discussion after city attorney Alan Furr advised it to take no action on a pending $49,965 bill received April 11 from Golden Excavating Co. Inc.
In February, the council approved paying Golden Excavating $48,000 for the excavation work on the road, $11,000 to Hanson Pipe for drainage pipes and $6,000 to McCartney Construction for rock and gravel. At the time the council approved the payments, the city had not yet received any invoices for the items it approved.
About a week and a half ago, at the council’s last work session, Hereford informed the council that the excavating work would cost the city $49,965 instead of $48,000.
Todd said several concerns warranted delaying payments for work done Feb. 17-March 21 on Veterans Parkway.
“The biggest reason, or the main reason, is that the grant we received was based on an invoice not issued from Golden Excavating,” Todd said. “The invoice the mayor submitted with the grant did not match precisely to the invoice that we were going to pay.”
Officials say an invoice or estimate in the amount of $85,000 from Goodgame Company Inc. accompanied the grant request submitted by the mayor.
“As it turned out, another vendor did the work,” Todd said. “It wasn’t even (subcontracted) through the vendor whose invoice was submitted with the grant.”
He said there were other issues of concern.
“Reason No. 2 is that there have been enough questions raised about the amount, who was paid what, and who the contractor was working for. It also warranted that we not rush, where we could be violating the procedures of the grant,” Todd said.
He said to his knowledge the city never contracted with James Lloyd Golden of Golden Excavating, and the council never officially voted to hire the local excavating company for the work.
“The council never approved the work,” Todd said. “The council didn’t and does not have a contract with Mr. Golden.”
He said the only invoice he saw from Golden Excavating was last week in the amount of $49,965.
“Depending on who you talk to — did we get the first invoice for this last Monday at 5 p.m. or was that the second or third invoice? I don’t know,” Todd said. “I will say this: It’s the only invoice I’ve seen. Let me back up. That’s the first one I’ve seen from Mr. Golden. I did see two invoices from Mr. Goodgame about the time the check came in, but that’s where it gets all foggy.”
He said there is also the issue of the state bid law, which requires all public works costing more than $50,000 to be bid out.
“Was the project truly less than $50,000?” Todd asked. “There are too many questions to proceed and to hope all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.”
In earlier interviews with The Daily Home, St. Clair County engineer Dan Dahlke and Golden both said the city was provided a project estimate for more than $70,000 at least two months ago.
Golden said he provided a $75,000 estimate for the road work.
Golden said he had almost finished the job when Dahlke told him to stop after he completed $50,000 worth of work.
Golden said he would absorb the loss and charge the city only $49,965 for the work completed.
Todd said the city’s attorney would talk to state officials, who awarded the grant, to see if the city can keep the money “if we change vendors as long as the scope of the project does not change.”
Golden said an additional $25,000 worth of work, separate from the road project he was hired to complete, is still required to prepare Veterans Parkway for paving.
Dahlke said the city or county could complete the unfinished portion of Veterans Parkway.
Contact David Atchison at firstname.lastname@example.org.