Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Oconee County Made Its Final Payment To Williams And Associates for Caterpillar Work, Development Authority Told

Less That Budgeted

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority has made its last payment to Williams and Associates, an engineering and land planning company, under that firm’s contracts for the Caterpillar project, county Finance Director Wes Geddings reported on Monday afternoon.

Geddings told those attending the regular meeting of the county IDA that actual payments to Williams and Associates by the Oconee County and Athens-Clarke County industrial development authorities was $146,808 less than the $870,079 budgeted to cover the firm’s services.

Williams and Associates was given two no-bid contracts by the two industrial development authorities in early 2012 for a variety of engineering services associated with the efforts by the two counties to bring the Caterpillar manufacturing facility to its current site on the Oconee County and Clarke County border.

IDA Chairman Rick Waller, during his chairman’s report midway through the Monday meeting, applauded the IDA for its work on the project and said that the authority had “followed state law and did everything according to what the mandates and all are in that regard.”

January and February 2012 Contracts

I reported in a posting here late Sunday night that the development authorities had signed a contract on Jan. 30, 2012, for $259,000 with Williams and Associates that included fees for geotechnical borings, a boundary survey, and a rough grading plan for the Caterpillar site.

The two authorities signed a second contract on Feb. 17, 2012, for $611,079 for traffic signal design, construction staking, contract administration, bid management, and sanitary sewer extension design.

Caterpillar announced on Feb. 17, the date of the second contract, that it was moving the manufacturing for small track-type tractors and mini hydraulic excavators from a plant in Japan to its site near Bogart.

The authorities, according to Oconee County Attorney Daniel Haygood, were not required to issue bids for the work, which is a service, and did not do so. The authorities do not have to give any explanation for why or how they selected Williams and Associates.

Without offering any context, Waller said at the meeting at the courthouse on Monday afternoon that the “IDA is a special entity, and we’re not required to go out to bid on contracts.”

The video below includes Waller’s comments about the project, the industrial development authority and the no bids contracts.

Geddings Report

Geddings gave his financial report at the beginning of the meeting and then said that he wanted to add something about an “event” that “occurred last week.”

“This brings you up to speed here,” he said. “The contact amount with Williams and Associates, we received final invoicing for that.”

Geddings said the county made a final payment of $1,067. Since the two development authorities split costs equally, the Athens-Clarke County development authority should have received a similar invoice.

Geddings said no other obligations exist for any work on the Caterpillar project, and that the final amount paid Williams and Associates was $148,808 under budget.

Jon Williams is president and principal-in-charge of Williams and Associates, with its offices at 2470 Daniells Bridge Road near the Oconee Connector.

(I was not able to attend the IDA meeting. Russ Page recorded the whole meeting, and the video above is taken from Page’s recording.)

Role of IDA

The two development authorities bought the land and did the site work for the Caterpillar plant, which last month reported that it had created 364 full-time-jobs in the first year of operation.

During the IDA meeting, ex officio member Melvin Davis, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, reminded the group of a meeting starting at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center, where citizens could express their views on requests for funding from the proposed 2015 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

Waller attended the Civic Center meeting and spoke in support of the IDA’s request for $4.7 million in funding for infrastructure at its Gateway business park and for a new industrial or busines park. The development authority has not received SPLOST funds in the past.

Waller told the Commission members and the public that funding the IDA projects would help everyone, since the IDA will use that money to generate more money for the county.

The Board of Commissioners appoints members to the development authority, but the IDA operates with its own budget and is quite independent of the BOC. It does use the services of county staff, such as Geddings and County Attorney Haygood.

The video of Waller’s presentation at the Monday night SPLOST meeting is below.


Anonymous said...

Who in the blank does IDA Chairman Rick Waller think he is...the IDA does not need to get bids for contracts and services?? It's a "special entity"??

Power has gone to this guy's head, and he shouldn't be trusted for a second.

Anonymous said...

Follow the money!!! Corporatism at its finest. Let the private industry pay it's own way. The small business that is not "connected" has no chance when the government picks the winner with "no bid" contracts. I see smoke... start looking for the fire before our county, citizens and small businesses all get burned.

Anonymous said...

Economic development is a good sounding word for using taxpayers money for any old thing a few unelected people decide to do. Mostly help themselves become powerful and rich. When their deals don't work out, the taxpayers just get to pay in more to make up for it. All EDA's (IDA's) have to follow open meetings and open records laws. Look at the Gwinnett Braves stadium; it's a bust and the taxes for Gwinnett taxpayers will be going up again!