At the August regular meeting of the Mexico Beach city council, the council decided to cancel the agreement with Cathey Construction to build a new city hall.
After a three-year insurance battle over the historic Parker House property that began after the building caught fire in 2011 just days after being purchased by the city, a settlement was reached that totaled $834,000 over three years.
Design fees on remodeling the building and later for a new structure paired with rent costs on a temporary city hall left the city with $485,000 and short of the million-dollar goal it had in mind for construction of a new building.
Upon receiving the settlement funds, the city also received an invoice from Cathey Construction for $42,825 for three years of consulting work.
The invoice wasn’t delivered with a line-item breakdown and councilmembers said they were not sure what they were paying for.
Interim city administrator Marcus Collins reached out to other construction companies to verify the quote. While one company agreed with the price, another called the invoice “excessive.”
At a workshop last week Councilwoman Tanya Castro said she wanted a more detailed invoice from Cathey Construction to better understand what the city had tasked them to do and how long it took.
“There’s no backup…there’s no documentation,” said Councilman Jeff Tendler, agreeing with Castro.
To date the city has paid Cathey Construction $150,500 for costs associated with the city hall project including demolition on the Parker House.
“I don’t understand how the company can say that after everything’s been paid, submits at $42,000 invoice,” said Councilwoman Mary Blackburn. “I don’t see any justification to pay this.”
The council decided to pass the invoice to city attorney Paul Komarek to see if the city is legally obligated to pay it.
Castro moved to schedule a special meeting where the council could discuss how to move forward on the project and Blackburn brought up the idea of forming a citizen input group to ensure the city builds something that would benefit the community.
“(City Hall) is a big deal for citizens,” said Blackburn. “I would love to see citizens involved in coming up with ideas.”
At a special meeting scheduled for this week councilmembers will bring the names of 5-7 citizens who would form the group. Collins said the meetings should be chaired by a member of the council and Castro wanted to provide the group with “marching orders” to work with.
“Let’s go, let’s start this process,” Blackburn said.