Lawsuit: N. Fulton taxpayers stuck with $2.7M bill after CID mistake

Sandy Springs has filed a lawsuit against the Perimeter Community Improvement District and two contractors for paperwork mistakes that the city claims could cost taxpayers more than $2.7 million.

The contractors — CH2M Hill Inc. and Aecom Technical Services — completed streetscaping, sidewalk improvements and environmental work on a stretch of Peachtree-Dunwoody Road in 2009 for a project commissioned by the Perimeter CID that used money from GDOT through a federal grant.

In 2014 — well after the work had been finished — a federal audit found that paperwork wasn't in order and the federal government demanded it's money back, according to the 170-page lawsuit, obtained by Channel 2 Action NewsSandy Springs claims that the Perimeter CID and the contractors were responsible for the project paperwork.

GDOT returned the grant money, but had already paid the contractors. The state agency then demanded that Sandy Springs, as the CID’s financial agent, reimburse them for the work.

"Well, the lesson is for all local governments, whether you're serving a sponsor or receiving these federal grants, you certainly want to be sure you comply with the federal law," Wendell Willard, the former city attorney for Sandy Springs, told Channel 2. "Georgia DOT had to pay (the money) back, so then they turned to us, as the local government, and said 'You have to pay us back.' We had no choice."

In a statement, the PCID said: “We look forward to resolving this issue with our trusted partners at the city of Sandy Springs.”

Willard told Channel 2 that the city tried mediation with the Perimeter CID and the contractors, but that “everyone wants to point fingers at somebody else” and “we couldn’t get anything resolved.”

In the lawsuit, Willard says Perimeter CID has “caused the city unnecessary trouble and expense”.

There are several other projects Perimeter CID received funding for that could be audited at a later date, according to the suit. Sandy Springs amended its lawsuit last week seeking protections against owing for those projects, in case the federal government pulls more money for those projects.

A court date for the lawsuit has not been set and a Sandy Springs spokesperson declined to comment on the pending litigation.

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