Government SPLOST 7 | | | Editor

Counsel of Heery International doesn't come cheap to city

City covers rates, expenses of construction management firm

Saturday, June 1, 2013 9:00 PM
Last updated Sunday, June 2, 2013 2:43 AM
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With their city offices, city name badges and city equipment, Forrest White, Jacques Ware and Butch Gallop are often mistaken for Augusta employees, but they aren’t.

They are part of a decade-old relationship between the city and private construction management firm Heery International.

Unlike city employees, however, Heery and its two “subconsultants” – Gallop and Associates; and Dukes, Edwards and Dukes, headed by state Rep. Winfred Dukes, D-Albany – have annual 4 percent rate increases built into their contract, which has helped propel their hourly rates to more than $200 and award the group $9.5 million in billed fees since 2004.

The Augusta Commission, meanwhile, has twice reaffirmed the rate increases, agreeing with little comment to extend the firm’s contract and shifting money budgeted in Heery’s “not to exceed” contract for abandoned projects to new ones.

FOUNDED BY Athens, Ga., native George Heery, the firm touts its ability to manage construction projects, correctly estimate costs and protect the city’s interests against those of general contractors, architects and other construction firms.

Heery, Dukes and Gal­lop arrived as a package deal in 2003, on former Commission member Bill Kuhlke’s recommendation that the city buy “program management services” with sales tax revenue rather than have the city public works department hire full-time personnel to oversee sales tax projects; at the time, those included a new judicial center, government administration building, main library, civic center, performing arts center and convention center.

Heery arrived in 2003 with the involvement of Dukes as “a minority business that’s going to be used by Heery,” according to minutes from the October 2003 commission meeting.

Gallop was “a community liaison to provide two-way communication flow to the surrounding community to promote local and minority business participation for all the projects,” according to the job description that then-Mayor Bob Young read into the record.

Gallop said his role as community liaison has shifted from increasing minority participation since a 2007 federal court order barred Augusta from using race- and gender-based criteria in awarding contracts.

Though Heery uses those criteria in other parts of the country, in Augusta it pays attention only to “local participation,” which he helps increase by fostering relationships between contractors assigned to projects with local small contractors, Gallop said.

“It becomes a great thing when contractors look at the whole Richmond County and the small mom and pops,” he said. “It’s because we’ve gotten creative.”

THE CREATIVITY COMES at a high price. The annual 4 percent increases in the amounts Heery billed for its service have boosted Gallop’s and Dukes’ rates above $200 an hour, although Dukes rarely bills more than a few hours each month for himself. Even an on-site administrative assistant now costs the city $62.78 an hour to perform clerical work for Heery.

Heery’s Augusta rates are high. A 2011 survey of billing rates among top construction management firms by the Los Angeles Unified School District found the highest average billing rate – for a regional project director – to be $221 an hour, less than either of Heery’s highest-billing Augusta staff. The second-highest average billing position among private-sector firms was $183 an hour.

AUGUSTA IS RESPONSIBLE for more than Heery’s fees, however. The group also requires the city to pay its expenses, including rented office space in the Hatcher building until last year, cellphones, temporary living expenses for staffers assigned to Augusta projects, relocation expenses, office equipment and supplies.

Gallop said despite the fees, the group reinvests the local dollars it earns back into the community, making donations to various groups such as Augusta Partnership for Children and Richmond County Parent-Teacher Association.

“You can’t just come in and make all the money and leave,” he said. “We don’t get to do all the things we are asked to do, but when we’re asked to do things that we think are legit, we do them.”

A report of payments to Heery under its Augusta contract shows $9.53 million between July 2004 and May 2013, within the firm’s revised 2010 contract maximum of $10.3 million.

Part of the group’s work also generates its own workload, however, through the development and promotion of sales tax packages.

City Administrator Fred Russell, a fervent Heery supporter, said the group rescued the city after failed attempts to get voters to pass capital improvement programs – the $486 million special purpose local option sales tax V package in November 2004 and two $100 million bond referendums in 2005.

“What they did in the second SPLOST V (sales tax package) was they were able to put together some reasonable numbers,” Russell said of the $160 million tax package that voters approved in November 2005.

Gallop’s role as community liaison has come to include promoting the passage of special purpose local option sales taxes; he acknowledged after the $184.72 million sales tax VI passed in 2009 that he campaigned for it, making hundreds of phone calls and holding neighborhood meetings.

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Brad Owens
Brad Owens 06/02/13 - 10:41 am
Heery needs to go..

This is a large waste of taxpayer dollars.

The use of “subconsultants” to buy off minority support for this large waste of tax dollars is blatant and obvious influence purchasing.

$200 an hour for "liaison" services is ludicrous, I mean absolutely insulting to the intelligence of working people in our town.

What a scam.

Heery should go, I smell a big fat corrupt political rat is all this.

just an opinion
just an opinion 06/02/13 - 01:24 pm
Butch Gallop

Butch has gotten rich out of playing the game. Publish how much he has been paid. I dare you. And then explain exactly what he has done. Or let him try to explain it. You will be amazed.

IAmISaid 06/02/13 - 01:40 pm
re: Butch

Butch's job is to assure that Sunday services run harmoniously, without negative mentions of Heery or those who rapaciously devour ARC taxpayers' treasury. Best I can tell, his performance has been exemplary.

Conservative Man
Conservative Man 06/02/13 - 04:57 pm
I love the headline....

....that consulting doesn't come cheap.
It CAN come cheap, but not when you are dealing with the current crop of blood-suckers.....i.e. Heery and their "sub-consultants" Gallop etc..
My question is: When will the Commission wake up and hold Fred(what me worry) Russell and THEMSELVES accountable for continuing to fund this farce?.....
Answer?....Probably never....This answer is the main reason my house is up for sale...I can't get out of this county quickly enough.....

jwilliams 06/02/13 - 08:03 pm
Originally created

Originally created 01/02/98

The Shiloh fiasco

By Augusta Chronicle Editorial Staff

Financially pinched Augusta taxpayers can hardly find it reassuring that $145,000 the city spent to renovate Shiloh Community Center has all but been poured down the drain. The work is shot through with overcharges, irregularities and substandard work.

That's the bad news. The good news is that this shoddy performance by contractors, architect Sidney Carter and a consumer marketing firm headed by Wilbert "Butch" Gallop is not likely to be repeated by them -- or anybody else. That's because the recent appointment of Richard Acree as city facilities director should ensure that it won't.

Acree will be watching such sales tax projects with an eagle eye and if he finds contractors taking any unauthorized liberties in workmanship or billing he'll blow the whistle and hold them accountable.

In fact, says city Administrator Randy Oliver, contractors henceforth will have to sign a system of agreements spelling out precisely what they'll do and the costs.

To be sure, this should have always been city policy, but it wasn't until Oliver came aboard that commissioners got serious about implementing professionalism in running the government.

If it hadn't been for Acree's investigation, the fiasco at Shiloh -- touted just last year by GOP vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp as an example for America's inner cities -- probably would never have come to public attention. He found that shoddy work and dubious billing procedures failed miserably to achieve the purpose of bringing the community center up to building and safety code standards.

Also galling is the $8,000 fee charged by Gallop, the so-called project coordinator who was supposed to recommend an architect and contractor, but did neither. Gallop's contract was signed after both the architect and contractor were hired. He wasn't needed at all.

The only work Gallop did, apparently, was to apply for sales tax money -- and now he's seeking to get reimbursed for even those costs. Fat chance! The city set aside $150,000 for emergency Shiloh repairs and has spent all but $5,000 of it. But rest assured, says Oliver, neither Gallop nor Carter will ever see a nickel of that last $5,000.

willie7 06/02/13 - 08:24 pm
How much has been paid to

How much has been paid to Butch Gallop , the last nine years?
Is his fee $200/hour?
Am I this reading this correctly This guy can't read his name if he saw it on a sign post.He and Corey got a thing going on. I wonder where Corey Johnson's money is coming from.For a man who doesn't work, he's dressed sharp daily.
Like for the Chronicle to keep digging and follow up on this article.

jwilliams 06/02/13 - 10:43 pm
Hey Willie 7, here is one of

Hey Willie 7, here is one of Corey “THE GREAT ONE” Johnson sources’ of income;
Elite Construction & Business Solutions LLC
2321-g Peach Orchard Road
Augusta, GA 30906

Jonesboro GA 30236

Susan McCord
Susan McCord 06/03/13 - 07:22 pm
Hey J Williams

How do you connect the commissioner with that firm? I don't see any officers listed on their filings.

KSL 06/11/13 - 09:26 pm
Does he have to be an officer

Does he have to be an officer to benefit?

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