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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Questions remain over National Water Company Contracts for over $400,000 in Mitchell

MITCHELL - MARCH 7, 2023 - At the November meeting of the Mitchell city council meeting Dan Terrell questioned the city council members on more than $400,000 the city paid to the National Water Company since 2021 for work that the city itself could have done on its own.

Monday night, Dan Terrell who is running for Mitchell City Council, again questioned on why the city has not been able to answer the questions.

Any contract below $50,000 does not require bids according to the Indiana State Board of Accounts. But Terrell asks why the Board of Works, and city council did not exercise their due diligence in questioning the large amount of work and costs the company was doing on the city's behalf.

Video: City council questioned over the National Water Company contracts

The payments to National Water Company stopped after former Mitchell Mayor J.D. England resigned and went to work for the company.

The City of Mitchell residents is paying large water and sewer bills with those expected to increase over time for the infrastructure needs of the city.

City of Mitchell responded to the questions left by Terrell and the residents of Mitchell in a press release back in December.

The media was provided copies of a statement in regard to invoices by the National Water Services over the last two years.

There was over $483,406.51 in costs to the city over the last two years by the company.

According to Terrell there was not any contracts or bid process for the amount of the work performed.

Terrell told the council members they are currently seven water and sewer employees as wells as; equipment purchased to perform the work that is being conducted by the National Water Company.

in the invoices obtained by the Lawrence County Zephyr in 2021 National Water Company billed the City of Mitchell $239,488.32 and $243,918.29 in 2022. The work included inspecting lift stations, filter replacements and work at the city pool.

Some of the work performed was approved through ARPA funds, and as well as the Mitchell Board of Works. However, no contractual agreements were found when Mitchell Clerk-Treasurer Mark Bryant looked for the invoices, contracts, or details following Terrell's request.

Newly appointed Mayor Nathan Jenkins provided the following information previously in December, which included the following statements.

Contract Concerns?

Here was the city's response to the issue:

Yes, the City of of Mitchell had contracts with National Water Services for the invoices whether they were in writing or verbal, National Water Services was asked to do a job and the city agreed to pay.

Should these contracts been bid?

The city's answer to this is "No" these jobs when contracted did not meet the $50,000 threshold requiring a bid, although invoices came in over the threshold they were not over when contracted.

Invoice 111135 was a contract quoted at $45,543 but was invoiced at $52,172 due to a change order and unforeseen problems with old supply lines and fittings. These meters have been dead through the last several administrations, my question would be why they were not replaced years ago. This job was approved by the city council.

Why were these jobs not completed by city workers?

Hopefully, next month meeting I will have an answer for each of these invoices, but at this time I can answer that the jetting invoice in question the city's jet machine was in the shop. Until September of this year the city did not have the proper equipment to pull lift stations pumps (a backhoe and a chain is not safe per OSHA) The city does not own the equipment to televise the sewer lines as needed for the Midwest mapping project which was approved by the council.

Mitchell Mayor Nathan Jenkins says the city water/sewer employees have been busy taking care of water leaks that plaque the city on a daily basis.

" National Water Service has done work for Mitchell, they do a lot. They do a lot of work in communities in Indiana, and I believe 13 other states. I believe in their products and how they help other communities. And I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to be a part of helping other communities and not just mime.," England told the Times Mail in a story following his announcement he was going to resign to work in the private sector.

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