Construction Woes in Huntsville

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A Texas City company is accused of burning businesses when it comes time to pay. Now the city of Huntsville is having trouble with the company and local contractors are saying, "I told you so."

No one is working to build the new fire station on Huntsville's west side. That's because crews have walked off the job, saying the general contractor, Stephens Construction, hasn't been paying them. Now the project is way behind schedule. But local contractors say they aren't surprised.

" We've had financial problems with them ever since we've started working with them back on a project for SHSU and that's the reason that we were a little concerned when they started getting some other work in Huntsville," said Robert McCaffety, owner of McCaffety Electric.

McCaffety says he warned city council about the problems he had with Stephens Construction and he wasn't the only one. Robert Macaluso owner of Discount Plumbing did the same.

" We had problems getting paid not only myself, but other subcontractors on the job," said Macaluso.

Huntsville isn't the only city having problems with Stephens Construction. Contractors in College Station and Wharton who were working on fires stations say they weren't getting paid either.

Huntsville city attorney, Thomas Leper, says the city used a bidding process and criteria which ranked Stephens construction number 1.

" We complied with the law. We appreciate that folks were for whatever reasons expressing concerns, but we had to follow the law," said Leper.

But McCaffety and Macaluso believe the city made the wrong choice and will now loose time on an important project.

Brian Stephens, owner of Stephens construction was unavailable for comment Monday. News 3 obtained documents showing that construction of the fire station had been turned over to a bonding company. But city officials say they have not be informed of that.

Stephens Construction was also renovating the Wynne Arts home in Huntsville.

Contractors also walked off that job site saying they haven't been paid for their services in months. The project was supposed to take less than a year to finish, but it has been nearly two years since construction began.

The city invested over $600,000 to turn the historic home into a community arts center. There is still no word on when it will be completed.