Council questions old invoice

Published 9:03 am Friday, May 1, 2009

MURFREESBORO — Murfreesboro Town Council Tuesday tabled action on a $12,192.50 invoice for services provided more than three years ago by a Raleigh firm.

The council’s discussion followed receipt, at the end of February, of an invoice for services rendered by George Finch Boney and Associates in 2006 and 2007.

When Town Administrator Cathy Davison, who joined the town Aug. 1, 2007, learned of the invoice, she began to ask questions.

Davison told the council she has been unable to find in its minutes “where the council approved moving forward, especially for such a large amount.”

Council member Bill Theodorakis said he remembers discussion of the issue, but “something’s not right… I don’t think we got what we asked for.”

Similarly, council member Molly Eubank said she, too, remembers discussion of the matter, “But I don’t remember any mention of $12,000.”

Council member Mary Odum asked Davison if she had found any mention of the work. “I did not… no mention of a fee for a survey,” Davison responded.

Theodorakis said, “If it’s services we received, we should pay our bills. But I think we got way more than we asked for…” And, he said, “We don’t have anything for our money but a survey on a piece of property we already own.” Theodorakis said his recollection was that the council’s inquiry was “about the little cleared area at the top of the hill” at the Cremains Cemetery on the southeast side of Hart Street.

In a letter, Robert Graham of the George Finch Boney and Associates firm, said, “Enclosed are some things that I hope will help clear up some misunderstandings about our work… I was first asked about the need for some survey work on this project in January of 2006.

I was in Murfreesboro for some meetings related to the wastewater treatment facilities project and went to Winton to get copies of the deeds for the cemetery tract and for the surrounding properties.

I was able to get copies of all the necessary deeds except for the Winborne tract northeast of the cemetery tract. “Without the Winborne deed, the only reference that we had for the location of the line between the cemetery tract and the Winborne tract is contained in the Town’s deed to the cemetery tract and it says ‘and bounded on the east by the lands of B.B. Winborne heirs.’

The boundaries to the lands on the west and south sides of the cemetery tract are described as the ravines being the dividing lines.

Although you could assume that the ravine is the line on the Winborne side as well, the deed does not say that…” The letter continues, “During 2006 and 2007 when (we) were doing our field and office work on the project, we held off on sending invoice, hoping the issue of the Winborne line would be resolved quickly and that we could get the map recorded and send one final invoice.

When this still had not happened in November of 2008, we sent an invoice for our work to date. With the slumping economy, we could no longer keep this amount of time on our books unbilled…” Elements of the invoice include: 6 hours of a civil engineer’s time at $95 an hour, $570; 8.5 hours of a professional land surveyor’s time at $95 an hour, $807.50; 68 hours by a 2-man survey crew at $105 an hour, $7,140; and 52.5 hours by a survey technician at $70 per hour, $3,675. In other action, the town council heard that the Board of Adjustments had approved the request of Art Watson for a 15-foot corner setback variance for the property at 511 Spring Avenue.

Watson intends, Davison told the council, to tear down the structure there now and replace it with a 28-by-42 foot residence “in character with the houses currently in that neighborhood.” After adjourning into closed session, council members emerged to accept a bid under the state’s Upset Bid Process from Alton White for 1.68 acres contingent upon receipt of receipt of White’s deposit.