City of Forney doesn't have critical documents to back funding in road project

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by DAVID SHECHTER

WFAA

Posted on March 23, 2011 at 10:52 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 24 at 1:36 AM

FORNEY - Progress is on the march in Forney, where three construction projects are under way to improve the Kaufman County city's aging roads.

To make it all happen, Forney took advantage of an innovative state funding program called "Pass Through Funding."

Pass Through Funding allows cities to pay for the work today with the state of Texas paying them back over time. Such projects are the specialty of a company called Pate Transportation Partners.

But, News 8 has learned in the middle of the Forney project, the city canceled its $56-million agreement with Pate after already paying the company over $4 million for its efforts.

Firing a general contractor is very rare, experts say.

Pate confirmed the company kept critical accounting, payroll and work documents. Experts say without those records, Forney will have trouble proving the work was done and done right, which is a pre-condition for being reimbursed.

Both Forney and Pate declined requests for on-camera interviews, citing possible litigation, but they said they are working on a solution to have the information returned.

"We are in the process of working with Pate for transition of all items to the City and the new project manager to allow the projects to continue moving to completion," read a statement released by the city.

Forney needed someone to bail them out, so they called TxDOT. Forney and TxDOT have signed a $1.7-million agreement, and TxDOT has taken over the role of general contractor.

"Well, it's not something we were planning to provide, these services in this context," said Cynthia Northrop White, a TxDOT spokeswoman, when asked if the situation was unusual.

The entire point of Pass Through Funding is to minimize TxDOT's involvement. Now, TxDOT is pulling in crews to oversee the Forney job.

The city says it is close to selecting a new general contractor to take over the work and see it through.

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