KAYSVILLE -- An area contractor is questioning the amount of work Kaysville city is awarding a Syracuse construction firm amid claims of a possible conflict of interest.
Based on city documents dating back to July 21, 2009, the earliest date contract records are available, the city has awarded 59 projects to Circle B Construction of Syracuse.
The payments the city has made to the company over that time total $1,045,577, according to invoices the Standard-Examiner obtained from Kaysville city through a public records request.
Contractor David Adams, with DEA Construction of Kaysville, said he thinks the number of projects being awarded to the Syracuse company may in part be due to Kaysville
City Public Works Director Larry Mills having a relative or business relationship with someone working for Circle B.
Mills said his son Monte Mills does work for Circle B and has done so since 2012. His son also worked for the company in 2007, he said.
Because his son is employed with Circle B, Mills said Cody Thompson, assistant public works director, deals with the contractor on the city's projects.
The familial conflict of interest between Mills and the Syracuse construction company is not recorded with Kaysville city on any public document, city officials said.
City Manager John Thacker said he is aware of the situation and has "noted" it.
Mayor Steve Hiatt said he is willing to look into whether those types of situations need to be recorded with the city and made available to the public.
"I'm not sure now if what we are doing is insufficient, but we'll look at it," he said.
Circle B Construction has been in business for 18 years and has been doing work with Kaysville city since 2006, when it was hired to move utilities for the 200 North freeway interchange project, said Gleelyn Bateman, owner of Circle B.
Bateman confirmed Mills' son worked for his company for about a year in 2007, before leaving, only to return in spring 2012.
But having Mills as one of his equipment operators has garnered Circle B no special favors from the city, Bateman said.
The invoices between the city and his company are not out of line, he said. Kaysville officials "are just trying to find the fastest, best (contractor) and stay within the guidelines."
Bateman said he is bothered by Adams' complaints.
"The work I am doing for them is here and there. We're not getting rich, by no means," Bateman said.
And when the company works with the city, he said, it is dealing with Thompson, the public works assistant, and not Larry Mills, Monte Mills' father.
"We deal nearly all" with Thompson, Bateman said. "I don't really know what (Adams) wants."
But Bateman said he is not surprised at Adams' claims, suspecting Adams may have a vendetta against him as a result of Circle B Construction a few years ago stepping in on a job Adams was initially supposed to work.
The two companies have never worked together on a project, Bateman said, but Circle B Construction has rented equipment from Adams.
Kaysville officials are also quick to defend the number of projects awarded to Circle B Construction. They say the dollar amounts paid out to the company are not excessive.
Thacker said Circle B Construction is a "good performer," and as a result, it receives some of the "open market" work the city has available.
Any project that is $5,000 or less does not have to be publicly bid out by the city, said City Finance Director Dean Storey.
Of the 59 invoices paid out to Circle B Construction since July 2009, 21 are for projects amounting to $5,000 or less, based on city documents.
Regarding the amount that has been paid to Circle B over the last 50 months, Storey said, the total does not represent any sort of monopoly when comparing it to the city's overall expenditures.
"The city spends millions a year," Storey said, giving the $1 million amount paid out to the construction company over the last 50 months some context.
The payments made to the construction company by the city range from $83,641 to $750, based on city documents.
Circle B receives a portion of the city's awards because it charges the city an hourly rate only when its equipment is in use, and not a daily rental rate, which can be higher, Mills said.
But Adams is not the only contractor who has concerns with how Kaysville city handles its bid awards.
Another contractor with similar concerns contacted the Standard-Examiner but declined to be quoted by name, fearing retribution.
"We have all watched this Circle B thing for 10 years now," said a frustrated Adams.
For example, Adams said, after a Dec. 1, 2011, windstorm tore through the area, his company helped the city clean up debris as a "good Samaritan," only to later learn Circle B Construction, which also responded, was receiving payment.
"We are not expecting to be paid for what we did," Adams said, and then other contractors rolled in to participate in the cleanup, with the city agreeing to pay all of them.
Storey said where the cleanup following the windstorm involved Federal Emergency Management Agency jurisdiction, the city was required and did pay all contractors -- including Adams' company -- who helped do city work.
Adams said he finally met with Mayor Hiatt.
"The net result of those meetings was to create a list of excavators that could be called on. They agreed. None of that has been done," Adams said of local excavators he said are often ignored when it comes to receiving city work.
It was at that same time, Adams said, that Hiatt requested the issue not be shared publicly.
"I have remained quiet for too long," Adams said.
But Hiatt denied Adams' allegations. He said it was a result of his meeting with Adams that the city reviewed and made changes to its purchasing procedures. A document enacting changes was adopted by the city council in April 2012.
The city's purchasing procedures say any project of $5,000 or less are to be awarded based on an open market procedure. Projects between $5,000 to $50,000 follow the same open market procedure, with the added condition that three bids be obtained, with the lowest responsible bidder to be awarded the contract.
Those projects $50,000 and up require a formal contract procedure, which includes advertising, and a bid opening in a public meeting at a predetermined location.
All bid awards are to be reviewed and approved by the city council in an open meeting. Projects of $50,000 or less are approved collectively as part of the city's financial register, Storey said.
Individual projects of $50,000 or more are approved separately.
Hiatt said he is not aware what occurred surrounding the Dec. 1, 2011, windstorm that may have soured Adams on the city. "Things moved fast that day. This was an emergency event."
Adams said it is with the smaller projects that the public works director will figure out how to get the work to "his main people."
Thacker doesn't dispute that, saying when it comes to the city awarding open market projects, Circle B is at "the top of their list."
"This is not the first time we've heard this story," said Thompson, the assistant public works director.
Adams "never once bid a job for Kaysville," Thompson said. "But he keeps throwing the city under the bus when it comes to Circle B Construction."
Adams acknowledged that Mills and he have a history. The public works director filed a report against him with the state Division of Professional Licensing.
Mills "pursued me personally to have my license taken away," Adams said. The effort was unsuccessful after he had the opportunity to speak with DOPL officials, he said.
But apparently the feelings between Adams and Mills go both ways.
Mills said the city did work with Adams' construction firm on one of the city's residential properties four to five years ago, and when the resident was not satisfied with the work, it resulted in a complaint the city had to address.
One area contractor also charges the city with breaking bigger projects down into phases in order to award them without public bid.
Storey said those instances where invoices show Circle B Construction receiving smaller payments on or near the same date are a result of the company catching up all at one time in billing for different projects it has completed.
There are occasions when the city has to remind the Syracuse firm to send invoices for work it has done for the city, officials said.
Contact reporter Bryon Saxton at 801-625-4244 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @BryonSaxto