Generator Mix-Up Could Cost $25,000 | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Generator Mix-Up Could Cost $25,000

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Hinds County Supervisor Robert Graham says a state auditor's investigation is politically motivated.

A mix-up between contractors and Hinds County officials could cost county taxpayers $25,000. The county enlisted Kossen Equipment Inc. in December 2009 to install an emergency electric generator for a radio communications tower near Terry and Springridge roads in Byram. The county rents land for the tower and an associated building, but Kossen workers installed the generator outside the building on non-county property.

At a June 7 meeting, Kossen General Manager Hershell Morgan told county supervisors that Jimmie Lewis, the county's director of emergency operations, approved the generator's placement when he met Kossen's representatives at the Byram site. Re-installing the generator inside the communications building will cost the county an additional $20,000 to $25,000, Morgan said.

"All that equipment has to be modified now for it to go inside," Morgan said. "Also the building is set up for one size generator, not this size generator. So that building has to be modified. You're talking about a large project that was not included in these bid documents."

Lewis disputed Morgan's account, saying that he had no knowledge of the county's plans for the site, having only been appointed to lead the county's Emergency Operations Center in November 2009. Lewis told the Jackson Free Press that he never authorized Kossen's plans.

"I was basically there just to let them into the site," Lewis said. "That's basically it. I don't know what they took that as … but I had no idea of what they were doing until I got on the site. The only thing I did was listen to what they were discussing."

Kossen officials contacted Supervisor Phil Fisher when the county delayed paying for the generator installation. Fisher, who cast the only vote against Lewis' appointment in November, was skeptical of the EOC director's explanation.

"This is just the typical kind of nonsense that goes on," Fisher said. "It just galls me to no end. And all of a sudden,
nobody's responsible."

At Monday's meeting, Board President Robert Graham noted that the county did not have a signed contract with Kossen for the installation, which might have specified the generator's correct location. Instead, the county used a purchase order and has not paid Kossen the $53,000 installation fee for the generator. Graham told the JFP that Kossen representatives would meet with county officials to hash out a solution.

"We're going to try to do whatever we can to resolve the conflict," Graham said. "That's by talking to both parties and seeing if there's any written documentation in the scope of the work."

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