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Martinsville City Council investigating half a million dollars paid to single company without bid or contract

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. – The Martinsville City Council has hired an outside law firm to investigate why a city contractor has received more than $650,000 without a bid or contract.

The council is expected to receive an update during a regular meeting Monday night.

City documents indicate more than $564,000 in infrastructure projects in 2017, like new sidewalks and storm sewers, have all been billed to a single company on top of nearly $88,000 worth of projects in 2016.

“When I found out there were no bids, no quotes and no contracts, I was completely shocked,” Kris Fuller said, a member of the city council.

Fuller said the mayor and city have provided no proof the projects were bid out.

And now the council has hired Bloomington-based Bunger and Robertson to investigate whether any state or local laws were violated.

“We want to make sure all procedures for the city of Martinsville were followed and if there were not procedures in place for this that we have a plan to put those in place,” Fuller said. “And finally, what if any reason this company was selected over any other?”

The council isn’t questioning the quality of the work or billing from the company itself, but work and payments to the company have been suspended during the investigation.

On Tuesday, Martinsville Mayor Shannon Kohl issued this statement:

"At a November 16 Council meeting, the issue of public bidding was discussed. Because my administration is committed to transparency and doing things the right way, I instructed our new City Attorney to conduct a review of past and existing public purchasing and public bidding procedures. These procedures have been in place for a number of years and I want to take this opportunity with our new City Attorney to look at these matters with fresh eyes. Martinsville is prospering and the future is bright. But we must also be aware that we can always do better. In that light, this review of our long-standing bidding and purchasing procedures will ensure that we remain steadfast in our stewardship of public resources. As reported, the Council voted to conduct a more specific review into infrastructure projects and payments to Robertson Construction, and retained separate counsel to do so.  While I do not believe a dual review is necessary, I accept the Council’s right to retain separate counsel.

"Interviews and reports based on less than full information while these reviews are ongoing merely add to speculation and confusion about the relevant law and facts.  All of this overshadows the good that we collectively have been undertaking in the community and the value of the Martinsville city employees who work tirelessly for our benefit."

Councilors anticipate the investigation will span several months.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story said the city attorney did not respond to our repeated request for comment Monday. The attorney clarified that the request was not received by them until Tuesday. 

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