A battle between Livingston Parish President Mike Grimmer and the engineering firm handling parish government’s road projects remained unresolved Friday afternoon after a lengthy meeting.
In dispute is a bill Alvin Fairburn and Associates presented to the parish for road engineering work that Grimmer said he didn’t authorize.
Grimmer has filed a complaint with the state’s engineering board, while some members of the Parish Council have asked Grimmer to drop the complaint and mediate the matter.
Grimmer, the council and representatives of Fairburn argued over the matter for several hours Thursday night.
Friday afternoon, three members of the council, Grimmer and representatives of Fairburn met again in a closed session, but came to no formal agreement.
Eddie Aydell, chief engineer at Fairburn, said progress was made and he hopes the matter can be settled by the middle of next week.
Adding drama to the issue are the facts that Grimmer and Fairburn are also in a long-running argument over the cost of Hurricane Gustav waste cleanup and that the office manager at Fairburn, Layton Ricks, is running against Grimmer for parish president.
Earlier this year, Fairburn presented the council with plans for $11.4 million in parish road work and a bill for $747,271, according to the complaint filed by Grimmer.
The Parish Council voted 7-2 to pay the bill, with Marshall Harris and Cindy Wale dissenting, but Grimmer said there were problems with the bill and refused to pay it.
In March, Fairburn reduced its bill, saying that a clerical employee used the wrong percentage in calculating the engineering fee.
Grimmer said the problem goes beyond the amount of the fee being sought, which is now $566,202.
Grimmer said he never gave written authorization for engineering work on the road projects, which he said the parish can’t afford .
He said the company created plans for $11.4 million in road work when the parish has only $3.5 million to spend on road overlays this year.
He subsequently filed a complaint with the engineering board.
Aydell said at a Parish Council meeting Thursday night that the firm followed the same procedures it has for 15 years in doing engineering work for the road program.
He said the company proceeded with the engineering work when the council approved a list of roads to be resurfaced and gave it to the firm.
Fairburn had no way of knowing the parish couldn’t afford the $11.4 million in work, he said.
Company officials maintain that if the council can’t resurface all of those roads this year, the plans can be used later.
Thursday night, Councilman Thomas Watson asked Grimmer to drop his complaint to the engineering board and seek the mediation for which the contract calls in case of a dispute.
The council, which had a motion on the table to ask Grimmer to drop his complaint, put off action Thursday night so that the parties could meet Friday to attempt to resolve the matter.
Neither Grimmer nor Council Chairman Randy Rushing could be reached for comment after Friday’s meeting, but Aydell said the talks went well.
He said no formal agreement came about, but that some agreements were reached in theory and he hopes the matter can be resolved by Wednesday.