By ESTEVAN MEDRANO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
January 29, 2015
Colair Inc., a general contractor based in Mission, is suing the City of Port Isabel over disagreements regarding the numerous problems resulting from the delayed construction of the PI Cultural & Event Center.
However, according to City Attorney Robert Collins, this issue stems from disputes that the contractor (Colair) has allegedly not paid its subcontractors throughout the development process. Subcontractors do the actual construction labor while a contractor supervises the project during that tenure while monitoring requests for payment. Collins is confident that the case will be dismissed and described the suit as a “desperate” distraction from Colair’s illegally profiting practices.
“The contractor had decided to defend itself by going on the offensive and filing what we consider to be a frivolous lawsuit,” he said. “The lawsuit they filed was against the City, but the City is immune from that sort of action and we will deal with it appropriately,” he said.
He expects the case to be dismissed within six months. “It’s a simple case where they just put the money in their pockets and didn’t pay the [subcontractors],” he said.
Colair Inc., which has a number of completed projects with the U.S. Border Patrol, including the Edinburg headquarters and the Kingsville checkpoint, claims that they were not paid and they were delayed at the fault of the City.
According to Collins, the retainage, or a portion of the agreed contract funds withheld until labor is substantially complete, was not yet made. This allowed the City the ability to work with a bonding company because the contractor did provide a performance and payment bond that assured they would pay the subcontractors.
Colair Inc. began construction on the Event Center in October 2012. After going well over a year beyond the original estimated completion date of September 2013, the City gave the contractor a deadline ultimatum which not abided by. This forced the City to take over the remainder of the Center’s construction, roughly 10 percent unfinished. The City advanced funds to the subcontractors to complete their work and the City was reimbursed by the loan proceeds for the construction costs.
The City has yet to determine what the damages are for the period of time the project was postponed.
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