Waveland to fight paying off TCB debris removal contract
By Dwayne Bremer
Oct 9, 2012, 17:28
The city of Waveland has asked the Hancock County Circuit Court to dismiss a lawsuit from a contractor who claims the city owes it $1.36 million in post-Katrina cleanup work.
On Tuesday, the Waveland Board of Aldermen met in executive session to discussion litigation in the T.C.B. case.
In 2009, T.C.B. filed a lawsuit in Hancock County Circuit court claiming the city owed it more than $1.36 million for a tree-cutting contract in 2006.
The case was stayed shortly after because the city was appealing FEMA's decision to de-obligate funds from the project.
T.C.B., a Poplarville-based company, was awarded the debris cleaning contract for the city of Waveland in the days after Hurricane Katrina.
In 2006, the city amended its contract with T.C.B. to include hanging and leaning trees and uprooted stumps.
The company submitted invoices totaling $3.2 million, but it was only paid $1.85 million.
T.C.B's contract was with Waveland; however, Waveland was receiving funding for the project from FEMA.
According to court documents, FEMA performed an audit of all the work done during the contract, and it found several discrepancies with the actual work and the amounts billed.
FEMA found that T.C.B. billed for more trees than were actually cut, billed for work which was not done, billed for work done by church groups, altered tickets, worked in ineligible areas, and billed for trees already on the ground.
Overall, the agency found that only 58 percent of the work which was billed to the city was legally done.
FEMA also found that some of the contracted prices, such as $330 per stump removal, were "excessive."
FEMA then decided not to pay the remainder of the invoices, and T.C.B. filed suit against Waveland to recover the money.
T.C.B. claimed in court documents that it performed all of the work and that it was entitled to the balance owed from the city.
"T.C.B promptly and diligently performed all of its contractual obligations," the suit said. "The city of Waveland has failed to pay T.C.B. for all work performed, notwithstanding all work that has been approved by the city and its representatives."
In March 2012, Waveland learned that FEMA had denied its appeal on the $1.36 million de-obligation.
On Oct. 1, the city filed a motion to dismiss the T.C.B lawsuit, claiming that the contract limited T.C.B to "the total value received" from the funding agency (FEMA.)
The city received slightly under $1.8 million in funding for the project.
In fact, the motion said, the city overpaid T.C.B by about by about $60,000.
"Based on FEMA's validation, it reduced the grant amount to $1.793 million," the motion said. "FEMA's de-obligation of $1.3 million represented findings that 42 percent of T.C.B's claims were not performed. Waveland has overpaid T.C.B. and its claims should be dismissed. No issue of material fact exists based on the law of the contract."
The motion has yet to be heard by Circuit Judge John Gargiulo.
Waveland officials said Tuesday that they are not sure if they will seek to recover the $60,000 the city says it overpaid T.C.B.