Claremore Daily Progress

October 4, 2012

Used or Returned? More questions arise about Helm’s road material usage

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — Rogers County Commissioner Mike Helm continues to face scrutiny concerning an $11,034 purchase that was done without following bidding procedures under state statute. 

The purchase order, No. 301164 to Maxwell Supply in Tulsa, was first presented for payment during the Sept. 24 commissioner’s meeting.
Helm presented the item for payment a second time, Monday, only this time the P.O. reflected a credit of $2,283. The credit was applied to Helm’s account after six rolls of the road fabric were returned on Sept. 27.
After the credit was applied to the invoice the purchase order was less than the $10,000 bid limit.
The paperwork and timing of the transaction brought forth more questions on Monday as Commissioner Kirt Thacker and citizens at the meeting wanted an explanation for the change.
“Last week when I explained it, I said we opened the road and were doing a mile of road,” Helm said. “Because it exceeded the bid limit by $1,024 we went ahead and took back six rolls for a credit against it.” 
Helm was then questioned about the timing of this transaction.
“I did not get the rolls and we did not finish up the project until Tuesday. We returned it on Thursday and they (Maxwell) made a new invoice,” Helm said.
Benny King, District 2 road foreman, told the Claremore Progress on Wednesday that the road was actually completed approximately two and a half or three weeks ago.
When questioned about the statute requirements and bidding Helm could not explain why the item was not bid, except to say there were three types of fabric.
“I did not know I was going to go over the amount,” Helm said.
Helm claims he does not know the price until he gets the invoice.
Once it came to my attention then we looked to fix it, he said.
“We are talking about $1,024, to go back to get a credit so we don’t have to spend $3,000 to publish it for a bid,” Helm said. “We did it in a way to make the ticket amount under the $10,000 once we knew it was over. We fixed the road in case you want to know.”
“We are not trying to break state statutes. We try to guess, we try to make it right, my God, your talking about $1,024,” Helm said. “I made a $1,024 mistake, I told the board about it, Mr. Iski [Assistant District Attorney David Iski] about it, I told the clerk about it.”
“Mr. Iski and I discussed it when I did the bid and realized it was over and looked at other options,” Helm said.
“The amount of $1,024 has come up in my opinion as a citizen traveling the roads it wouldn’t matter to me if it was $100. The issue is doing business correctly and being accountable for the money that was spent,” Chad Choat said. “The fact that the dollar amount drives the argument that it is not a big deal negates everything about honesty, ethics and accountability.”
After much discussion, Thacker held the purchase order, refusing to pay it until consulting with District Attorney Janice Steidley.
“Nobody is making the statement that they really want to make,” Thacker said. “Ask him [Helm] to resign that is really what you want to say.”
Commissioner Dan DeLozier gave a second to Thacker’s motion to hold the purchase order for further review.
Helm submitted paperwork to the county clerk, for the credit, including a credit memo issued from Maxwell Supply and a new receiving report issued from Rogers County District 2.
This paperwork became the center of the discussion, as the dates entered did not match. For example, the credit memo from Maxwell was dated Sept. 27 but was noted to be applied to an invoice dated Aug. 8.
The receipt report from District 2 was dated Aug. 7, yet included the credit for returning the six rolls of fabric. The fabric was not returned until Sept. 27, therefore could not be listed as returned on August 7.
Additionally, the paperwork was modified from the original paperwork submitted to the Rogers County Clerk for payment on Aug. 8.
The clerk’s office notified Helm on Aug. 8, Sept. 14 and Sept. 18 that the paperwork was not compliant with bidding procedures.
Helm was notified during a six-week period prior to the Sept. 24 commissioners meeting in which he sought payment for the purchase.
It was not until after that meeting, when the purchase was questioned that Helm took action to find a solution for the issue.
At that time Helm claimed there was no way to know that the purchase would exceed the $10,000 limit until the roadway was already torn up. He also said that it would be difficult to bid the road fabric because it could be one of 10 different types.
Assistant District Attorney, David Iski and District Attorney Janice Steidley were present during the discussion on Sept. 24, as Helm was questioned about not following bidding procedures.
Maxwell Supply was contacted regarding the purchase and verified that the receiving  ticket was issued for the six rolls of fabric. Additionally, Maxwell Supply said each roll of the fabric would cover 360 feet of the road. Two rolls would be required to cover both lanes of the road.
Helm reported that one mile of road was included in the project on Sept. 24.
A mile of road is 5,280 feet long, meaning that 10,560 feet of material would be needed for that stretch of road. It would require 29 rolls of fabric to complete one mile of roadway, according to Maxwell Supply representatives.
King, District 2 road foreman, was asked about the distance the material was used and how much was returned.
“I found out I had got us in a bind, It was my fault,” King said. “After I found out and got my butt chewed out, I took back the six rolls.”
He said that there was approximately 300 feet that was over estimated on finishing the road. King said he was planning to use the extra materials on another road project.
After the issue came up, he simply returned the fabric, King said. To have six rolls left from the project, King would have had to over estimate the road length by 1,080 feet. It is clear that the measurements do not match between the information provided by King and Maxwell Supply.