CCS withholding $100K from contractor over Central Enrollment Center project


COLUMBUS – A central Ohio attorney alleges Columbus City Schools is “holding money hostage” from his client – Mid-Ohio Paving, a subcontractor that performed paving work on the district’s Central Enrollment Center more than a year ago.

And he’s not alone.

A CCS spokesman confirms four subcontractors have filed liens against the state’s largest school district related to the project.

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Scott Varner told 10 Investigates Monday that CCS is withholding $100,000 from its general contractor, Palmetto Construction, in an effort to ensure that a checklist of work is completed on the nearly $5 million renovation project of the enrollment center.

“We need to make sure we get all the work we want done,” Varner told 10 Investigates by phone.

The problem is that subcontractors say they’re caught in the middle of this dispute.

And those like Mid-Ohio Paving say they haven’t been fully paid for work they completed more than a year ago.

Attorney Bill Petty said his client, Mid-Ohio Paving, completed asphalt paving work in October of 2017 at the enrollment center. Google Street View images of the project from that same month show a freshly paved driveway at the enrollment center.

But Mid-Ohio Paving says it’s still owed some money – more than $10,000 in retainage.

“Specifically, my client had contracted to do some asphalt paving work, related to the driveway and the parking area to that project,” Petty told 10 Investigates by phone Monday. “So when this money is withheld that ends up being what their profit is. And it’s tied up, entangled up in a dispute between the general (contractor) and the school district in this situation.”

But Varner said the subcontractors issue should be with Palmetto, not the district, asserting that the district’s contract is with Palmetto and it’s up to Palmetto to disburse payments as they see fit.

Palmetto did not return repeated calls seeking comment. And no one answered the door at the company’s Columbus office when 10 Investigates stopped by on Monday.

10 Investigates was forwarded an email reportedly sent by a Palmetto representative to various others, including Mid-Ohio Paving and representatives from CCS.

The email, directed to CCS, read in part: “As discussed Friday, people want to know why you have not released retainage for a paving subcontractor who has been done for almost a year. 10TV (sic) was just here and we have no comment for them. We will direct all questions they may have to you for defense of this issue.”