The Town of Locust Grove received a jaw-dropping bill from Tracy Engineering Services, demanding payment for over $64,000 for services provided over a four-year period. Tracy Engineering was to have provided services to the town in regard to a major upgrade project at the wastewater treatment plant.
Bill Tracy first presented an invoice in the amount of $64,272.50, including a detailed invoice, on April 6, 2010. He addressed the board of trustees later in the month, but the issue was tabled.
Recently, the town received a letter from Attorney James E. Saunders, representing Tracy in the
Town Attorney Tammy Ward said she has an original contract, dated Sept. 6, 2005, but she has questions about that document.
“The engineering contract I have contains a signature from Odie Butler, Jr., witnessed by Jessica Noble,” Ward said. “There is no signature from Tracy or an additional witness on this contract.” Butler was mayor and Noble was the office manager at that time.
In addition, City Clerk Tamatha Ogilvie said she couldn’t find a corresponding town meeting where the contract was on the agenda to be approved.
“I looked on either side of that date to try and find a meeting that addressed it, but didn’t find anything,” Ogilvie said, adding that her search will broaden to make sure nothing was missed.
In addition, Ward said that in paragraph three of the contract, which may or may not be valid, it states that engineering services are not expected to exceed $5,000.
“It also states that services are to be invoiced monthly with balance due by the 10th,” Ward said.
Ogilvie has come up empty on that issue as well.
“I could not find anything. No statements, no proof of payment. Nothing,” Ogilvie said.
No one on the current board was serving in that capacity at the time of the supposed contract with the exception of Heath Holman, who was new to the board and had no prior knowledge of Tracy.
Former mayor Shawn Bates appeared at the meeting to answer questions about Tracy’s contract.
“When I came onto the board, you know, I didn’t know anything about water plants,” Bates said. “You find out that there’s a major project underway and you have to jump in the middle of it and find out what’s going on.”
Bates said he discovered that “plans” submitted by Tracy to the Department of Environmental Quality had been sent back.
“Then plans were resubmitted and turned back again,” Bates said. “Then we get a letter from DEQ and we get whopped upside the head that we’ve lost a $250,000 grant on the project because we did not meet time constraints that we had to meet.”
Public Works Authority Supervisor Janet Donnelly said while she wasn’t at Locust Grove at the time, she could say the plans that were submitted were most likely engineer reports and one was finally approved by DEQ.
Bates said that while Tracy “did do work,” he understood that Tracy would only be paid if the project was done and that the loss of the grant sidelined the project.
“We decided to concentrate on (water) distribution problems instead of treatment plant issues,” Bates said.
After discussion, trustees asked Ward to draft a letter to Tracy’s attorney in response.
“I’m writing the attorney and stating that we do not have a legal contract that we can find and request a copy of such a contract if it exists,” Ward said.
A new engineering firm was retained by the town a year before Tracy began contacting the town regarding payment for services rendered.