Having been paid over $100,000 in public funds which raised some eyebrows as to the actual work being done, Donald Martin has moved on from the Housing Authority.
Martin submitted his work detail surrounding the Housing Authority’s Rental Assistance Demonstration project last week, along with his desire to resign as the project manager.
Martin’s role as the RAD project manager raised concern with the Housing Authority Board when a request for his qualifications, experience and work log was never granted. Also, Martin admitted to not doing anything for seven months and getting paid $5,000 a month.
Ben Washington, interim director for the Housing Authority, did submit Martin’s work detail with the Housing Authority last Thursday, along with Martin’s request to resign from the project.
“He said he is fine with moving on,” Washington said. “He did say he was owed one invoice. He wanted to get that last invoice and move on.”
Martin, owner of Martin’s Specialized Services, has been receiving a monthly check of $5,000 for the past 23 months with Yazoo City Housing Authority job for “predevelopment” work.
Following the death of former HA director Betty Reed, the current housing board started reviewing several contracts she handled during her tenure. One contract with Martin Specialized Services caught the attention of the housing board.
Martin admitted in January’s board meeting that he has been paid for seven months without doing any work.
A contract was signed between Martin and Reed in March of 2017 for “construction management services.” Martin told the housing board last month that he is the “project manager” for the $43 million-dollar RAD project.
According to recent work documents, Washington said Martin indicated that there was not a lot to do outside of evaluation plans.
“The detail described making sure the scope of the work was identified as far as submittals outlining the materials that would be used from flooring to paint to the appliances,” Washington said. “Also, work included verifying everything was in HUD compliance, as well as correspondence with the architect.”
Veronica Starling, Housing Authority board member, said Martin’s recent request to be paid $2,500 in a final invoice should not be honored.
“By his own admission he worked for six months and did not do anything,” she said. “So I think the invoice has been satisfied. He’s been paid.”
However, board attorney Lilli Evans-Bass said the invoice should be paid to avoid a length and expensive legal battle.
“Based on the way the contract was written and the very strict guidelines under which he could actually be terminated, if he is willing to withdraw under this agreement, at this point, I recommend tendering him that last payment and being done with it,” Evans-Bass said. “The way the agreement was written, he really could have held you to the fire and forced this into litigation for the duration of the construction under this project. If that could save you several thousand dollars and months of litigation, I would tender the $2,500.”
The board agreed to honor Martin’s request for a final payment and honor his desire to resign as RAD project manager.
“Under his contact, he technically didn’t have to be doing anything,” Evans-Bass said. “He was hired to manage the project very prematurely before anything was happening.”