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Plumbing contract dispute boils over in Hall County
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Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting

What: Vote on contract for plumbing services
When: 6 tonight
Where: Hall County Government Center, commission meeting room, 2875 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville

The Hall County Board of Commissioners tonight will likely award annual contracts for electrical, elevator and heating, ventilation and air conditioning repair services without debate.

But awarding a plumbing contract is a different story.

Commissioner Craig Lutz told The Times he will make a motion to approve a contract with Bill Worley Plumbing Co., based in Gainesville, despite the fact another company has made a lower bid.

Hulsey Environmental Services, also based in Gainesville, says it can do the job for about $93,000. The company is currently under contract, providing these plumbing services through the end of the current fiscal year.

“(Worley’s) hourly rate was slightly higher,” said Hall County Purchasing Manager Tim Sims. “The actual cost will vary depending upon the work that is actually performed throughout the year and it varies depending upon plumbing issues that arise.”

But a few issues regarding Hulsey’s past performance have upset some county officials. They are now questioning whether to renew the company’s contract.

“I think there’s several different issues we’ve had over the past few years,” Sims told the Board of Commissioners earlier this week.

Billing issues have been a major complication, officials said. And the company also drew the ire of Lutz, who said it was unresponsive to a constituent’s calls for service.

The issue began when an underground plumbing repair damaged a resident’s lawn.

“Mr. Lutz has a friend down at Deaton Creek he thinks we should have done some special work for,” said owner John Hulsey. “We’re not in the landscape business, nor did Hall County want to pay us to resod the guy’s yard. I’m not going to go outside and go do a personal favor for Craig Lutz and resod a guy’s yard.”

Language in contract awards stipulates they should be given to both the lowest and most responsible bidder.

County Attorney Bill Blalock said the Board of Commissioners can base its vote on performance history, especially if Hulsey’s failures have been documented.

“I don’t know if they deserve the county’s business anymore,” Lutz said.

But Hulsey takes issue with Lutz’s complaints.

“We’ve been doing this off and on for close to 25 to 30 years,” and never had any service issues, Hulsey said. “These little squabbles with these commissioners ... they come and go. But we stay.”

Hulsey also questions the wisdom of awarding the contract to Worley.

“And Bill Worley’s a convicted felon,” he said. “By state law, a convicted felon cannot even hold a plumbing license.”

According to Hall County court records, Worley has seven DUI convictions.

“They know my history,” Worley said. “I had some problems. I’m an old veteran ... just fell into a little scene there. ... That was wrong to do. I’ve tried to overcome that, and have.”

Worley’s plumbing license has been revoked, but he said his business and plumbing licenses are registered under an employee, therefore allowing him to continue operating.

Hall County has actually contracted with Worley in the past.

“Down through the years of doing plumbing for the county, we’ve tried to be responsive to their needs,” Worley said. “We’ve never failed to perform a job for them.”

Perhaps because the contract has changed hands between the two companies in the past, there appears to be some bad blood between Hulsey and Worley.

“Hulsey, I don’t know, he’s just a greedy person,” Worley said. “I swear he is.”

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