Havre Daily News
A Havre City Council member is questioning what arrangements the city made to pay the $16,800 bill for paving Third Avenue West.
Havre Mayor Bob Rice has said he had agreements with property owners along the one-block street to cover most of the cost of the work, but representatives from Pizza Hut said today they had no such agreement and will pay only a portion of the $4,500 the city has billed the company for.
During a City Council meeting Tuesday night, council member Pam Hillery, who is the Democratic candidate for mayor, asked that the $16,800 bill from Bill Baltrusch Construction be set aside until city officials can find out whether any agreements made by Rice were written or verbal. Rice did not attend the meeting and could not be reached for comment today.
"My question is: Are we going to get a written agreement from these people?" Hillery said after the meeting. "I just want answers. There may be very good answers for this. I imagine we'll get them."
Havre public works director Dave Peterson said today that he understands the city is working with property owners and asking them to pay $13,000 for the project. The city would pick up the additional $3,800, he said. City workers also did prep work on the street before it was paved in May, he said.
"It's my understanding that they are looking into it and are agreeable to paying for a portion of the street," Peterson said. He added that he understood the owners of The Golden Spike and Pizza Hut would each donate $4,500 to the bill, and that four residential property owners would pay $1,000 each.
Havre finance director Lowell Swenson said Tuesday the city has received one $1,000 check so far.
Peterson said the city has done other projects like this in the past. Last summer, the paving of 11th Street was paid for in part by property owners, he said.
Pizza Hut officials said today they had not received any formal proposal asking them to pay for the project. The company received a $4,500 bill from the city last week.
"We were left out of the loop and were not involved in the original discussion," Pizza Hut regional manager Jeff Knowles said in a telephone interview from Great Falls. "The bill came as a surprise. I've spoken with the mayor, and we've worked out an arrangement."
Knowles said he is sending a letter to Rice detailing how much money Pizza Hut will pay. He would not disclose the amount, but said it was less than $4,500.
"It was unfortunate that we weren't able to put it in our planning process because we weren't approached," he said. "We had no cost estimates. There was no written proposal. We're going to do what we can."
Pizza Hut area manager Darla Owens said the Havre restaurant was initially contacted about the project by a property owner but that none of the details were worked out before the paving began. She said the company is willing to pay part of the bill because the project benefits the store. It improves the area, and delivery drivers use the street on a regular basis, she said.
"We were originally contacted and asked if we were interested, but it was never followed up on," she said.
Tammy Farmer, who owns The Golden Spike, could not be reached for comment today.
Hillery said today that she had heard before Tuesday's meeting that there were no written agreements with any of the property owners to pay for the paving project.
"I'm glad to hear (Pizza Hut is) paying some of it, but again, this shows that we need to think projects through and get written agreements before we act on those projects."