Will they pay or won't they pay Rudy Warnock tis the question. Madison County Engineer Rudy Warnock submitted 31 invoices to the Board of Supervisors Monday. The Board refused to pay them, while Mr. Warnock threatened to sue if they are not paid (letter posted below). Board attorney Mike Espy cited an Attorney General's opinion (posted below) placing a statute of limitations on the county's ability to pay the invoices.
Mr. Warnock submitted three invoices to Madison County from 2011. The three invoices are $221, 315. Mr. Warnock stated these invoices were properly submitted several years ago but were not properly paid. Mr. Espy cited an AG opinion in justifying the denial of the claims. The opinion states:
a county or municipality has a duty to assert the statute of limitations as a defense in refusing to pay a claim...However, Warnock Attorney Dorsey Carson stated in a letter to Madison County:
statutes of limitations do run in favor of the state, counties, and municipalities. ...
the assertion of such a defense is not discretionary and may not be waived....
Based upon the facts presented, payment of all three invoices is now barred by the statute of limitations.
As to the first three invoices listed on this attachment, these invoices have been due for years. We are aware of the differing opinions from the State Auditor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office as to whether these are due and payable. The State Auditor’s letter is clear that they should be; the non-binding opinion of the Attorney General’s Office is that they are time-barred.An itemized list of the invoices is posted below. The Board voted to approve the two invoices for the Wost Wabbit project. Mr. Espy said state law prevents the county from paying invoices if they are more than 25% of the county's road fund. He also said the county could take up to 45 days to pay the invoices.
You may not be aware of the fact that, though the “total” on the invoices was inaccurate, the itemized listings on the invoices were not. These invoices were properly submitted and placed on the claims docket years ago. This is not a matter where the invoices were not placed on the claims docket at all. They were—there was just an addition error in the “total.” We believe this is a material fact of which the Attorney General’s Office was not informed or aware. My client’s position is that the itemized listings must be used rather than the total, and that each of these invoices continue to be due and owing.
Another significant distinction is that, unlike other contracts that have ended, the professional services contract of Warnock & Associates has not expired. The Board of Supervisors has an open account with Warnock & Associates.
For purposes of the Board of Supervisor’s consideration as to whether they should be paid today, it should be considered under the auspices of threatened litigation. If litigation is taken, then we believe that Warnock & Associates would be entitled to interest, which would be significant in this instance, and to attorneys’ fees under the Open Account statute.
As to the other invoices, while I do not purport to speak on behalf of the State Auditor, our understanding from conversations with that office results in a confirmation that these are all proper and payable. It is not the vendor’s duty to ensure that the Board of Supervisors does not exceed its budget during the first quarter, and my client properly performed work under its Professional Services Contract. If not paid, my client will have no choice but to seek the assistance of the court.