Not even Oxford and its well-stocked city coffers can survive pain-free more than $300,000 in construction-company delay fees. The civic embarrassment of spending that much taxpayer money on inactivity is reason enough for swift action.
That’s why it’s decision time in Oxford.
What’s needed today is either a decision to end the project, a conclusion Council President Chris Spurlin calls premature, or discussions that move along negotiations with construction firm Taylor Corp. or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Six months ago, this page discussed how inattention to the project’s contractual details led in large part to this unfortunate scenario. Although a Corps of Engineers spokesman told The Star in the spring that the city seemed to be trying to do the right thing when human remains were found at the construction site, the fact that the prescribed protocol of notification wasn’t followed can’t be overlooked.
We’ll say it again: When City Hall commits to spending significant amounts of taxpayer’s money, it should be just as committed to making sure that city staff and those who it hires follow rules to a T.
That didn’t happen, and Oxford’s bill for that mistake is well into six figures.
Oxford residents have every right to wonder how better that $300 grand could have been spent in Oxford. Though Oxford has spent liberally on other projects in recent years — new City Hall, new police station, new library, new school buildings — it doesn’t lessen the fact that more than a quarter of a million dollars has been thrown away.
Perhaps Anniston’s Grand Inquisition should move south.
Many Oxford residents have been patient during this delay — perhaps too patient — but they now deserve answers. They deserve to see Spurlin’s and Mayor Leon Smith’s commitment to resolve this lingering, troubling issue. The council has entrusted Smith with negotiating the fees with Taylor Corp. What’s the status of those talks?
Smith and Spurlin should update residents with further details of those negotiations at the next City Council meeting. Reassure the people of Oxford.
Likewise, we wonder if Spurlin and the council have considered seeking help from Calhoun County’s Montgomery delegation, or even Alabama’s representatives in Washington, in regards to the Corps’ slow response time. Oxford has waited six months for a Corps’ decision on when it would allow the project to restart.
Half a year is a long time, delay fees or not. It’s time for a strong reassurance for Oxford residents that their mayor and councilmen are doing everything they can to bring this regrettable episode to an end.