Beverly Town Council hears request from RCDA

BEVERLY — The Beverly Town Council heard a formal presentation Tuesday about a request for monetary reimbursement from the Randolph County Development Authority.

Robbie Morris, executive director of the RCDA, offered a presentation to council in an effort to explain the RCDA’s request for reimbursement in the amount of $18,850.

The reimbursement request involves water system improvements done in connection with an expansion project at Armstrong Flooring. The 85,000-square-foot addition to the Armstrong Flooring facility in Beverly increased the size and capabilities of what was already the largest pre-finished hardwood flooring plant in North America, officials said.

Morris explained Tuesday evening the reimbursement has been requested by the RCDA rather than Armstrong due to the fact that the RCDA is acting as the fiscal agent for the project.

“To reiterate what we have talked about in previous meetings, the water line work that was done as part of the relocation portion of utilities for the Armstrong expansion project – when that work first began, from the drawings and things that had been developed over the majority of 2018, when they actually started doing the excavation and site work, what was discovered wasn’t exactly what was in the plans,” he said. “So, the requirement that the utility work be done in coordination with one another. We worked as quickly as we could to figure out solutions as to what would fix the problem.

“With that, there was some work that was required that wasn’t part of the original site work as far as Armstrong stuff goes,” he continued. “So, that work was separated out from the total cost of the utility work, which was mid-$85,000 — of that amount, Dave Harris, our engineer and the site contractor, felt that a certain portion of that was more of Beverly’s responsibility.”

Morris went on to offer a timeline highlighting when plans were finalized, when work began and when it was completed, and when engineers and RCDA officials addressed the council about work, noting he first addressed council in Dec. 2018.

“On Dec. 11, I came to council at that time with our engineer, Pickering Associates, representatives from Armstrong kind of outlining what was done, why it was done and the cost, requesting reimbursement for that portion that was $18,850,” he said.

Morris added that during this meeting it was requested that he provide a summary of the RCDA’s request, a summary of the work that was completed and the cost associated with that. He noted this information was provided as documentation on Dec. 17, addressed to the mayor and council members.

In reference to the request for reimbursement, Mayor Cindy Karelis offered a prepared statement addressed to The Inter-Mountain prior to Tuesday’s meeting. In her statement, Karelis outlined that West Virginia Code 12-3-18 states, “It shall be unlawful for any county court, board of education or the council of a municipal corporation, or any body charged with the administration of the fiscal affairs of any county, school district, independent school district or municipality, to pay any claim for services rendered or materials furnished unless an itemized account therefor is filed by the claimant covering the claim.”

Therefore, Karelis requested that an itemized copy be provided as an invoice with RCDA letterhead.

While an itemized copy was presented to council members, Morris confirmed that this documentation, with RCDA letterhead, would be provided to town officials by today.

“It has always been my fervent wish that a clear and uncomplicated agreement could be reached between the Beverly Water Department and the Randolph County Development Authority regarding this request for reimbursement,” Karelis said in a prepared statement.

Ultimately, payment must be approved by members of the Beverly Water Board, officials said Tuesday; thus, members of town council unanimously agreed to recommend that members of the water board vote to make the requested payment.

Beverly town officials emphasized town residents will see no additional cost in their water bills in relation to this matter.

Members of the water board will address this reimbursement request at their next meeting, once a second reading of the revised water board ordinance is approved by town council.

Read more about Beverly’s water and sanitary board ordinances in Thursday’s edition of The Inter-Mountain.