The Adairville city council called out mayor Jim Wilkerson at Monday’s meeting when he announced that the city would be moving forward with a new addition onto the fire hall.
For months, Wilkerson has talked to the council about the need to build on to the fire hall in order to have space for the tanker truck recently purchased by the Adairville Rural Fire Department.
The city owns the fire hall, but both the city and rural fire departments share the responsibilities of the utilities at the building.
On Monday, Wilkerson announced that he had received two bids - one from Junior England and one from Gunderson Brothers - for the project and that he had decided that England would be allowed to build the new addition, since his was the lower bid.
Council member Becky Tinch said she felt like that was a decision that should have had the city council’s input.
“The last meeting you said you would bring it to the council,” Tinch said.
Wilkerson denied that and added that since the contract would be under $25,000, it did not need council approval.
The mayor went on to say that the project would be done in phases - which was part of his plan for keeping it under $25,000.
Under Kentucky law, any city project over $25,000 must be advertised for bidding and brought to the council to decide which company will be awarded the bid - according to the mayor.
Wilkerson said that the project would be split up in several phases to keep it under the $25,000 threshold. The city would be purchasing the approximate $12,000 in building materials on its own, he said.
Council member Bill Steen looked up the Kentucky Revised Statute pertaining to bids and read it aloud at the meeting. He corrected the mayor by quoting $20,000 as the threshold for public bids and also read a clause that stated projects could not be split up in order to keep them under $20,000.
“According to the KRS, we are breaking the law if we go ahead with this,” Steen said.
Wilkerson said he was just trying to do the best he could to get the addition built for as little as possible.
“I was trying to get this done for way less than $25,000 so you don’t have to get the federal government involved and pay prevailing wages,” Wilkerson said.
Tinch and council member Tony Nichols also questioned Wilkerson about how much of this project would be paid for by the rural fire department, since it was their truck that needed the additional room at the fire hall.
“I hope all of it,” Wilkerson said.
Tinch asked if there was anything in writing stating how much the rural department would pay toward the construction.
Wilkerson said there was not, but that he had a “handshake agreement” with the other board members to help pay as much of the costs as possible. In addition to serving as Adairville’s mayor, Wilkerson also sits on the Adairville Rural Fire Deparment Board.
“We’ve already had a fish fry fundraiser to try and get some money for this,” Wilkerson said.
Tinch said she thought the council should get something more binding than a handshake from the rural department before going forward.
The mayor asked the council if they should go ahead and build the addition or put it off.
The council made it clear that the project should not move forward.
“I’ll get a hold of both of them and tell them it’s off then,” Wilkerson said.