Suwannee Democrat

November 16, 2012

OMI here to stay

City attorney says it would be too costly to break contract, board agrees

Bryant Thigpen
Suwannee Democrat

Live Oak — A dispute that has been ongoing between the city of Live Oak and the city’s contracted public works company, OMI, has finally come to a halt. On Tuesday night, Nov. 13, at the city council meeting, the board voted unanimously to continue with the OMI contract following the advice of the city attorney. 

According to figures, if the panel chose to opt out of the contract, it could cost upwards of $2 million and the city could spend quite some time in the court system for breaking the agreement. The current contract binding the city and OMI was signed into effect on March 18, 2010 and was renewed for five years.

“We can’t jeopardize the city in a lawsuit,” said councilman Keith Mixon. “So the conservative business way is to rescind the original vote (to break contract) which is what we did and make sure we hold OMI more accountable.”

Because current complaints of the council were not submitted to the company in writing, OMI argues that they were not given an ample opportunity to address the matters.

The city did write one letter to OMI in September regarding the upkeep of the two city cemeteries in which OMI maintains, cleanliness of the streets and garbage that has piled up along roadways. OMI officials received the complaints, responded and the work crews performed their duties, according to the board. No other written complaints were sent to OMI. 

Then, on Oct. 9, the council voted 4-1 to terminate the contract with OMI pending further legal review. This decision came after the council met with OMI representatives on Monday, Oct. 8 to resolve issues that the city had with their performance.

The company would also have to negotiate out of a contract with the union that was paralleled with the city’s contract, demobilization costs that could equal $30,000, and they would have relocation costs for staff and managers that have moved into the area to carry out the duties of the contract.