A small-business owner in Sullivan said he can see why the county would not pay him for duct cleaning work he performed on the county detention center since he did not finish the job.
“I’m not going to go to battle with them,” said Mike Hill, owner of Tri-County Vent Cleaning.
But he said he thinks he should be paid if the new company that is hired does not have to repeat the part of the job that he did.
Hill said he had to stop work on the duct cleaning job at the county detention center last fall because he underestimated the scope of the project and how much it would cost.
Once he got started on the project, he realized his bid of about $5,000 was much too low. Therefore, he told county officials that he had to step away from the project about a quarter of the way through.
Hill said if he had completed the project based on his bid he would have lost at least $15,000.
He said he does not have any ill-feelings and that it is not the county’s fault that he underbid the job.
The county has opted to seek new bids for the work.
At the county commission meeting Tuesday, County Counselor Mark Vincent said Hill’s company won’t be paid.
Hill said Franklin County got several hundred square feet of ductwork cleaned by his company and has paid nothing for it.
He submitted a bill of $4,250 to the county Oct. 31 but has still not been paid “1 cent,” Hill told The Missourian.
If the county is not pleased with the work he did and the new company has to start over from the beginning, Hill said he understands why the county would not pay him since that would not be fair to the taxpayers.
“If they want to pay, that would be great,” Hill said. “The ball’s in their court for sure.”
Hill said he did good work on the part of the job he completed. County Facilities Director Joe Hurt said at the Tuesday county commission meeting that Hill in fact was doing a good job.
But Vincent said all of the work that Hill’s company did will have to be done over by the new company that is chosen.
At this point, Hill said he is conceding that he won’t be paid and is chalking up the situation as a learning experience.
First District County Commissioner Tim Brinker told The Missourian Thursday that the county commission may discuss the matter.
But Brinker asked what a homeowner might do if a firm was hired to put in a sidewalk and did not finish the job and still expected to get paid.
Hill said he understands Brinker’s point of view.
The county commission this week had to re-bid the job, which will be a disruption for the law enforcement center, Brinker added.
Paying Hill would set a precedent of a business getting paid for incomplete work, Sheriff’s Office Capt. Dave Boehm said.
If the county paid Hill, other businesses could get halfway through a project and ask for more money, Boehm added.
“That’s not a good use of taxpayer money,” he said, adding that his professional opinion is that Hill should not be paid.
Boehm said there was an agreement between Tri-County Vent Cleaning and Franklin County for the business to supply a service.
But Hill said he never signed a contract.
Brinker said he would have to look into whether there was a signed contract or not.
Vincent said Hill should be asked whether a contract has to actually be signed.
Brinker noted that Hill’s company was formally awarded the bid through a county commission vote.
The county had a binding agreement with Hill’s company, Vincent said.
Prior to the project starting, Boehm said he contacted Hill and other companies to see if they would be interested in the work.
Hill did a site visit of the facility to review the scope of work prior to making a bid, Boehm said. Hill then provided a quote of $4,885 for the job, Boehm said.
Boehm said he asked Hill twice if he wanted to revise his bid, and he declined. So the bid was approved and work started around last September.
Hill, 56, said he spoke with Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer about a month ago to see if he would be paid for the work he did.
At that time, Griesheimer said he would have to check with the county attorney, according to Hill. Hill said Tuesday that he had not heard back from Griesheimer.
Hill said he realizes the county commissioners are very busy and have ”bigger fish to fry” than a small- business owner like himself.
“To them this is probably a little nothing deal,” Hill said.
But he said it would have still been nice to have heard from someone at the county rather than not hearing anything.
In fact, Hill said the first that he had heard that he would not be paid was when The Missourian contacted him Tuesday.
Griesheimer did not return a message from The Missourian seeking comment but apparently referred the matter to Boehm.
‘Upfront and Honest’
Hill noted that he was upfront with the county about why he could not finish the job.
“I was totally upfront and honest with everyone I spoke with,” Hill said.
He explained that he felt badly that he could not finish the work. Therefore, he gave the county a discount on the work he had completed by not including his own labor costs, just those of his workers.