Waggoner Engineering gets partially fired from city contract

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – The Columbus City Council partially fired its ARPA engineering firm and overrode Mayor Keith Gaskin’s veto.

A lack of communication seemed to create confusion.

Those were all questions asked by city leaders today.

Now, Waggoner Engineering is completing some work but will not be able to help the city with its ARPA projects.

Columbus Mayor Keith Gaskin believes Waggoner Engineering and money from ARPA could solve a lot of problems in town. In December of 2021, The City of Columbus officially selected Waggoner Engineering to work on infrastructure with the ARPA money the city received and after much miscommunication, Waggoner Engineering’s contract has recently been canceled.

“I understand the council’s frustration on this. I am not angry with anybody but I am very passionate about trying to get this we’ve known since the 1970’s that we’ve had major infrastructure issues for flooding and to me, that’s the time we could’ve tried to tackle this problem long term,” said Gaskin.

The city council hired Waggoner in December 2021 to navigate ARPA projects the city wanted. Tuesday, councilmen partially fired the firm, in part, at a special meeting for a lot of communication misfires.

Ward 4 Councilman Pierre Beard said it was hard to be on board with unclear reasons as to why the contractor was asking for additional money.

“We got stuck with that task order two hours before that meeting even started and they were asking for $122,000 two hours before the meeting started. And that sent red flags. We didn’t ask for this we didn’t know what was going on. It was definitely unclear I got a better understanding of what’s going on but I want to basically sit down and go over the information and see what’s going on and we still approve for them to stay and complete the task order that they already have,” said Beard.

The city has already paid for most of Task Order #2 which was meant for drainage repair in the area.

Waggoner will continue part of the job that has mostly been paid.

“The Council voted and at the end of the meeting you heard to ask them to complete the 12-month contract that they are in right now and then reassess them at the point and we still have to work that out with them to see exactly what that looks like,” said Gaskin.

City leaders will also be tasked with finding another engineering firm to complete the projects they want to use ARPA money to complete or find matching dollars.

The ARPA funds that are being used toward this project have to be spent by 2026 and the City has to know how they will spend it by 2024.

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