City Gets $45K Shed Refund

The city of Gretna, La., scored a big refund just one week after filing suit against a contractor who built the River Front Amphitheatre and failed to return a $45,000 overpayment.

Belltech Group Inc. reportedly cut a $45,746 check to Gretna March 31, after a year of attempts by city officials to recover the accidental payment.

In its suit, the city claimed it made a final payment on the $915,000 shed project to Belltech Group on Feb. 1, 2010, according to court documents obtained by the Times-Picayune. But just a little more than a month later, the city made another payment of $45,746 to Belltech.

The mistake, which was uncovered during an audit, allegedly occurred when an employee in the city’s finance department failed to follow instructions to hold payment on a final Belltech invoice until it could be approved by an architect. So the city paid that invoice, then paid again after the architect gave the OK.

City councilman Wayne Rau told the paper the finance department was transitioning to a new computer system at the time, which could have led to the error.

The overpayment added a sour note to Gretna’s amphitheatre project, which was initially estimated to cost as little as $600,000 but eventually ballooned over delays and change orders, the paper said. The city also had to pony up $17,000 last year to deal with flooding issues at the shed site along the Mississippi River.