SpokaneCounty expects to receive
a total of $30,000 by the end of the week that will cover monthly payments
through July from racetrack operator Bucky Austin.
County officials will meet Monday with Austin and his staff about
notices from contractors for past-due bills totaling more than $1 million for
work done this year on the county-owned track. They will also try to determine
whether a surety bond was obtained for the improvements, as required by the
On Tuesday, Austin
referred to allegations that of missed payments as “malarkey” and contended
that threats of liens by contractors was merely a standard billing tactic. Some
of the work is only recently completed, he said,
“I don’t think I owe anybody over 45 or 50 days,” Austin said.
But an attorney for two of the major contractors at the
racetrack, Winkler Concrete and T.W. Clark, disagreed. John Black said the
bills from those companies averaged 60 days past due; contractors only hired him
to file liens because they exhausted other avenues and were worried they
wouldn’t get paid.
The contractors have notified the county, which owns the
racetrack, of that demand for payment. “This is the last thing they wanted to
do,” Black said.
made a lease payment to the county of $10,000 on June 24 to cover May, another
on Monday to cover June, and sent a third on Tuesday to cover July. Because of
a staffing change, he said, he was unaware that the payments were due on the
first of each month and hadn’t been sent, but moved quickly to correct the
problem once notified last week by the county.
County officials said they were unaware Monday that Austin’s May payment had
arrived that day because it went to the courthouse, rather than the North Havana Street
offices of the Parks Department, which handles the accounts for the racetrack.
Although he was late with his May and June payments, the county will consider
him current on his lease payments if it receives the other two payments by the
end of the week, Parks Special Projects Manager John Bottelli said.
The county already has his second payment, if they would just
look for it, Austin
said. He sent it by Federal Express to the same courthouse address as the first
payment, and has the tracking number to prove it. The third is going to the North Havana address, he added.
With the account current on the lease payments, county officials
want to talk to Austin
next week about surety bonds, which the lease agreement requires for any major
work at the track, Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Jim Emacio said.
“Under the terms (of the lease agreement) he was supposed to
provide a copy of the performance bond to the county,” Emacio said. County
staff was required to review the terms of the bond to be sure that it was
adequate for the project covered.
But the county has no bond documents on file and staff members
“were not requested to review a surety bond” for work at the track, Emacio said.
If there was a bond, Black said, the contractors could seek
payment through the bonding company, rather than filing leans against the
improvements made on county-owned property. The county had a statutory
responsibility to make sure that Austin
had a bond, he added.
insisted that obtaining the bond was the responsibility of the prime contractor,
T.W. Clark, which was managing the project and in charge of requirements set
down by the county in its lease agreement.
“We didn’t have the
expertise to do that,” Austin