The Hattiesburg City council unanimously approved an illegal “change order” for the Eaton School rehabilitation project in violation of state bid laws.
It all started when Finlo Construction, a major campaign contributor of Mayor Dupree, was awarded a job to stabilize the exterior walls of the Eaten School building. The original contract amount was for $40,978.
There were two change orders for this job. One for $3,600 in additional expenses, and another which was a credit for $18,198.00. This left a balance due on the job for $26,380. The “final invoice” for this job was issued on 7-8-2015, and payment was made on 7-17-2015 for that amount, with check number 245813. All of this was legal and above board.
Then on 8-12-2015 an illegal “change order” for $40,000 was added to the completed, contract. Once a project is completed with a final invoice, no change orders can be made simply because there is no open project.
Also, State law requires that any contract over $5,000 but below $50,000 requires a two bid process.
This never happened.
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The City Council is set to discuss paying this illegally approved job today and vote tomorrow. This site has notified the Office of the State Auditor regarding this issue. The state of Mississippi has bid laws in place, primarily to prevent contracts from being awarded at inflated rates or being awarded to friends, family, and campaign contributors.
Finlo Construction did absolutely nothing wrong in this process. They even saved the city $18,198.00, but our city government is tasked with following Mississippi State Procurement Law.
Councilman Kim Bradley reached out the Hattiesburg Patriot via text and said
“You are right (regarding this site’s reporting). The council was advised by mayor and legal council the project was not complete and a change order was fine. What the hell the council needs its own lawyer, accountant, and or financial advisor. It’s pretty evident why.”
All supporting documents are embedded below.
**To read the original investigative news story on Eaton School published by this site, click here. What’s not surprising is that Architect Don McCluskey, is a part of this debacle as he was in the first Eaton School debacle. He too is a top Dupree contributor.
The following is from the Secretary of State’s website regarding bidding jobs. The full document can be found here.
(b) BIDDING PROCEDURE FOR PURCHASES OVER $5,000.00 BUT NOT OVER $50,000.00 Purpose -Two Quote Bids Required Note – Must Document Best Bids – See Sec. 31-7-13 (d) Purchases which involve an expenditure of more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) but not more than Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00), exclusive of freight and shipping charges may be made from the lowest and best bidder without publishing or posting advertisement for bids, provided at least two (2) competitive written bids have been obtained. Any state agency or community/junior college purchasing commodities or procuring construction pursuant to this paragraph (b) may authorize its purchasing agent, or his designee, to accept the lowest competitive written bid under Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00). Any governing authority purchasing commodities pursuant to this paragraph (b) may authorize its purchasing agent, or his designee, with regard to governing authorities other than counties, or its purchase clerk, or his designee, with regard to counties, to accept the lowest and best competitive written bid. Such authorization shall be made in writing by the governing authority and shall be maintained on file in the primary office of the agency and recorded in the official minutes of the governing authority, as appropriate. The purchasing agent or the purchase clerk, or their designee, as the case may be, and not the governing authority, shall be liable for any penalties and/or damages as may be imposed by law for any act or omission of the purchasing agent or 5 purchase clerk, or their designee, constituting a violation of law in accepting any bid without approval by the governing authority. The term “competitive written bid” shall mean a bid submitted on a bid form furnished by the buying agency or governing authority and signed by authorized personnel representing the vendor, or a bid submitted on a vendor’s letterhead or identifiable bid form and signed by authorized personnel representing the vendor. “Competitive” shall mean that the bids are developed based upon comparable identification of the needs and are developed independently and without knowledge of other bids or prospective bids. Any bid item for construction in excess of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) shall be broken down by components to provide detail of component description and pricing. These details shall be submitted with the written bids and become part of the bid evaluation criteria. Bids may be submitted by facsimile, electronic mail or other generally accepted method of information distribution. Bids submitted by electronic transmission shall not require the signature of the vendor’s representative unless required by agencies or governing authorities.
The below documents constitute the legal work that was paid.illegalworkorder1
These below documents constitute the illegal change order that the council approved in violation of Mississippi State procurement law.illegalworkorder2