Hattiesburg, Groundworx ordered mediation over contractual obligations

Hattiesburg, Groundworx ordered mediation over contractual obligations

FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The City of Hattiesburg will soon meet Groundworx, LLC in a court-ordered mediation to resolve disputes surrounding the city's contract with the company to build a wastewater facility.

Forrest County Chancery Court Judge Ronald Doleac on Tuesday denied a motion filed by Groundworx, ruling that the contract did not bind the city to financing the wastewater treatment and disposal project.

Groundworx, represented by Jackson attorney Andy Taggart, filed a motion Monday that said a summary judgment was not sufficient for resolving contractual obligations that the city, according to Groundworx, did not fulfill.

“The city failed to cooperate with the financing needs of Groundworx,” said Taggart.

Although Doleac said the court could not find in the contract where the city had that obligation, he did allow Groundworx' motion to amend its original complaint, which would include breach of oral contract.

That amendment would be based on understandings Groundworx was under when city council president Kim Bradley and then-chief financial officer Connie Everett traveled to New York City to meet with bond dealers to discuss the project's financing.

The city council voted 3-2 to raise sewer rates to finance the Groundworx project, but Mayor Johnny DuPree vetoed that decision several days later.

According to the Hattiesburg American, a second motion Tuesday came from “Hattiesburg taxpayer” Thomas Blanton, which was allowed by Doleac, that said the Groundworx contract was unconstitutional on both state and federal grounds and violated the 14