The best way to spend taxpayer dollars?

COLUMBIA, Mo  10/24/17 (Beat Byte) -- A developer seeking a $2.1 million taxpayer subsidy to expand his Columbia hotel is fighting liens and lawsuits connected to its 2012 construction. 
Named as a defendant/respondent in over a dozen Boone County circuit court cases, Dave Parmley's Broadway Lodging, LLC received a $3.2 million tax increment financing (TIF) subsidy in 2011 to build the Broadway Hotel downtown.  Parmley is seeking a second TIF to build a second tower next door. 

The cases illustrate a costly but little-reported side of building and construction.  As unpaid bills escalate into litigation, years-long court battles can take a toll on productivity, finances, and time. 

Taxpayers and policy makers offering subsidies face an important question: Is this the best way to spend public money?
Contractors and suppliers filed "mechanics liens" against the Broadway Hotel in 2014 and 2015, Boone County Circuit Court records show.   A mechanics lien is a claim of payment due, usually for labor or materials, that attaches to real property which a court may then order sold to pay the claims.  

Liens may be filed to collect undisputed bills; after a general contractor fails to pay subcontractors; or after a developer or site owner disputes the quality or timeliness of work or materials and refuses to pay, either in whole or part.   To enforce a lien, a contractor or subcontractor must sue within a statutory time limit.

Parmley disputed both the timeliness and quality of the work at an Oct. 4 hearing of the TIF Commission studying the subsidy.  His attorney, Robert Hollis, declined to discuss further details. 

Contractors filing liens against Broadway Lodging include Highland Glass of Highland, Indiana; Killian Construction of Springfield; Custom Manufacturing And Polishing,  Springfield;  Jeff Schnieders Construction, Jefferson City; Missouri Builders Service, Jefferson City; M & M Painting, Blue Springs;  Arc Steel of Chandler, Arizona; Business Interiors Ltd. of Indianapolis; and Questec Constructors of Columbia.

Some liens were dismissed or settled. Others appear unresolved. 
At least one, Highland Glass vs. Killian Construction and Broadway Lodging, LLC has ballooned into a brouhaha, with the parties in court over 260 times -- almost twice a week -- since the case was filed in August 2014. 

A dozen lawyers from around Missouri have presided over subpoenas, testimony, depositions, notices, amended notices, counterclaims, exhibits, orders, trials, hearings, and judgments. 

A March 27 "Notice to Take Deposition" illustrates the complexity of the case.  

Broadway Lodging attorney Andrew Lammert sought to question MM Painting; Life Safety Group; Orion Electric; Door Controls of St Louis; Weaver Steel Construction; Terracon; Columbia Public Works;  Kone, an elevator and escalator manufacturer;  Western States Rebar Fabrication; Wasatch Rebar; Patterson's Hospitality; Ivey Roofing; Davis Companies; Classic Engineering; CECO Concrete Construction; Business Interiors, Ltd; and Ace Concrete. 
An order filed in September 2016 reads like a page from Charles Dickens, a well-known critic of the western legal system which he famously said exists solely to "make business for itself." 

"As to Questec Constructors, Inc.'s motion to compel Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America to respond to its request for production of documents," the order reads, "there is confusion as to what is still at issue between the parties as Questec's supplemental memorandum filed 7/22/16 indicates that Questec does not contest the objections to requests 1, 3, 4, 17, 18, and 25 through 27 but then asks this court to rule on objections made to requests 5 through 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23, 24, and 28 and in the prayer requests an order as to requests 5-16, 19-23, 24 and 28." 

Confusing, indeed. 

The TIF Commission will hear more public testimony about the Broadway Hotel's second TIF when it meets again October 30.