Spokane County officials are refusing to pay for the emergency pumping of Spangle’s sewage ponds because the town hired an unlicensed contractor for the job.
Mayor John Logan said he did not know the county required a licensed and bonded contractor as part of the conditions for the $10,500 federal grant. The county administers the federal money.
When county officials found out that Spangle hired an unlicensed contractor, they notified Spangle town officials that the bill would not be paid even though the county had agreed earlier to pay with part of a contingency fund for community development.
The sewage evaporation ponds were within eight inches of overflowing into surrounding fields when contractor Roy Gruenwald started pumping the wastewater.
Logan said county officials never told him to make sure the contractor was licensed and bonded. Logan said he hired Gruenwald after taking bids from three contractors. The mayor said he chose Gruenwald because Gruenwald had done other work for the town and gave a low bid on the pumping project.
In a letter to Logan, the county’s acting director of community services said the county could not approve payment for a job that violated state laws and federal regulations regarding contracts with private workers.
“I didn’t know it was a problem,” Logan said. “He (Gruenwald) did a perfect job.”
Now Gruenwald is left waiting for the town to pay his bill.
Logan said the town could pay Gruenwald from its emergency fund, but so far the Town Council has not agreed to the payment. The town has a population of 240, so the unpaid bill amounts to more than $40 per resident.
“It’s going to be a battle to get him paid,” Logan said.
The sewage problem arose when heavy storm runoff caused the evaporation ponds to fill at three times their normal rate throughout the winter. A lot of the water came from seepage into broken sewer pipes.
The town is in the midst of a project to upgrade the sewage system with a new treatment plant and repairs to existing pipes, Logan said. Spangle is being recommended for a $245,000 community development grant in 1997 to help pay for the new $1.2 million system.