County may be sued for payment

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While the Madison County Commissioners’ Court approved a payment to a contractor on Tuesday, the contractor may have to sue the county to collect.

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the county discussed paying $126,887.39 to TexasSource for work done on the J.R. Parten Elementary School building after it was damaged by rains associated with Hurricane Harvey.

However, commissioners were told by Auditor Toni Joyner that because the original request for purchase was solely for a general contractor at risk, and not for work performed at the facility, that she legally could not approve the payment.

Owner Clint Carroll said he did the work based on information from the county’s insurance company, because he originally bid to do the work, not be a contractor at risk.

“I have no idea where the confusion or problem is,” he said. “I followed the procedures.”

Commissioner Sam Cole said he believes that if Carroll did the work, he ought to be paid for it, and moved to have the check cut.

However, Commissioner Carl Cannon asked Joyner is she was satisfied with the process, and she said she was not legally allowed to approve the payment.

“The purchasing policies were not followed,” she said. “You did not hire a repair job. You bid a contract for project oversight. There were never any public bids for repair work that I have record of.”

Commissioner Thomas Collard express concern that Carroll actually was hired as a contractor.

“I don’t understand. My deal is he gave us a hard number of what it would cost, and that’s what we voted on,” Collard said.

Joyner pointed out that the minutes of the meeting where Carroll was hired as contractor at risk, only for oversight responsibilities.

“I have two attorney opinions to show you why I can’t approve that claim,” Joyner said.

The opinions essentially state that if the auditor finds fault in the purchasing procedures, she by law cannot approve the claim, and the only relief left for the contractor is to pursue the matter in court.

“What happens now is he has to file suit against the county, and a court of law has to say he can get paid,” Joyner said.

Carroll said he bid to be a contractor, not to provide oversight.

“I’m not a manager at risk. I’m a general contractor,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to me to put work out to bid when I have employees that can do the job in-house.”

Collard maintains he originally intended for Carroll to be hired as a general contractor and fix the buildings.

County Judge C.E. McDaniel said the court originally agreed that Carroll should do the work, and get paid for his efforts.

“We approved this in good faith,” he said. “Nobody spoke up and said we could not do it that way, so now we’ve left this fellow hanging out with no recourse but to sue the county, and this is another reason why it’s increasingly more difficult for the county to hire anyone to work for us, because we treat them this way.

“I think it’s a ridiculous situation,” he said.

The county still approved the payment, but after the vote, County Treasurer Judi Delesandri said the check would be null and void without the auditor’s signature.

In other business, the county:

•approved the use of $2,500 in hotel-motel funds to pay for entertainment during the third annual Fourth of July Celebration at Lake Madison;

•approved a lot split creating two 6-acre tracts of land for Larry and Marcia McGinty at the property located at 1681 Union Road; and

•approved a contract agreement with the Department of State Health Services Vital Statistics Section, which will allow the county to issue birth certificates and death notices.

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