Winnsboro officials were accused of being in breach of contract after not paying approximately $60,000 for work on the municipal airport.
The allegations arose during Winnsboro’s regular Town Council meeting Monday night by Bill Holdman, president and CEO of Amethyst Construction of West Monroe.
According to Holdman, Winnsboro owed his company $69,737 for the rehabilitation of Winnsboro Municipal Airport’s taxiway and aprons.
Holdman received a certificate of completion signed by Mayor Sonny Dumas and Heath McGuffee from Meyer, Meyer, LaCroix & Hixson Engineers of Alexandria. McGuffee was project engineer, according to Holdman.
Dumas said Winnsboro is currently disputing Amethyst Construction’s claim after further review of the quality of work.
“(The certificate of completion) was signed and certified by our office,” McGuffee said. “We made recommendations to the city, and the city has since disputed the remainder of the work and is requesting a reassessment. Yes, we did certify it but upon further review, (the work) does not meet the requirements”
When asked by Town Council member Rex McCarthy how did Amethyst receive a certificate of completion when the work was not complete Dumas said, “I don’t know if we have a certificate of completion but if we do I’d like to see it.”
Holdman said the certificate was signed by all parties involved.
“It was submitted to me then to you,” Holdman said. “I signed it, and you signed it. The only item is a punch list, and we are waiting on the weather. That has nothing to do with the money.”
Dumas said Winnsboro will pay the amount owed but wanted the contracted work complete.
“They have not completed what they were contracted to do,” Dumas said. “Our intentions are and will be to uphold our end of the contract once the contract has been complete.”
According to bid specs, rehabilitation of taxiway A and aprons one, two and four with the reconstruction of apron three were on tap. The project was funded partly through grants from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD).
Terry Shirley, airport manager, submitted pictures of mistakes to the aprons and taxiway to Town Council members and said Winnsboro only owes Amethyst Construction $62,603. He also said DOTD recommended not paying the money “until asphalt was even.”
“Mr Holdman have you looked at that project,” Shirley said. “Did it look good to you? Are you satisfied and do you think that it was done properly?”
Holdman said work was “done properly” and certified by Meyer, Meyer, LaCroix & Hixson.
Shirley also said the length of the project was only to be 60 days but drug on for more than a year causing some airport customers not to be able to use their hangers.
Holdman blamed the delays on change orders that needed engineer approval.
“I have every change order that was approved, and you had an obligation to go back to work,” Shirley said. “It has been weeks and weeks and weeks that it wasn’t touched. I have a tenant that his apron at his hanger has been down for a year and two months.”
Dumas said the project’s delay has caused the airport to be down too long.
“We got a runway that we can’t run our airplanes on,” Dumas said. “You are saying it is satisfactory to your degree, but yet it is not satisfactory to the City of Winnsboro.”
Members of the Town Council finance committee, Dumas and Holdman agreed to have a followup meeting to discuss the matter further.
Meanwhile, Town Council members unanimously approved to allocate money for an economic development coordinator (EDC).
Winnsboro joins other parish governments and businesses in hiring the EDC.
The push for a EDC is headed by Winnsboro Economic Development Committee and will be responsible for implementing strategies and executing plans that support economic growth and vitality of the community.
The position requires a Bachelor’s degree in business administration, economics, marketing, public administration or urban planning. They prefer candidates with at least five years of office experience and two years of entrepreneurial and economic development experience.
Carmen Sims, director of the economic group, said they currently have two applicants but are looking locally and regionally for more.
The hiring of an EDC is part of the group’s five-year strategic plan as required by Louisiana Economic Development and Louisiana Municipal Association to become part of a Development Ready Community (LDRC).
Winnsboro became a “certified” LDRC when Town Council members passed a resolution at their June 15 meeting in support of a proposed five-year strategic plan designed to improve vital local areas such as education, economic development and internet access.
“This person will actually do the leg work to promote economic development,” said Dumas. “The individual will be involved with members of the city and other institutions.”