Contractors in Houston are paying up to $15 an hour for cleaning, maintenance, and other services.
That’s on top of the $9.50 per hour they were already making.
But, for the first time in the city’s history, the city says it’s looking into the contractor who billed taxpayers $14,000 a month in 2016 for a general contractor’s work.
The city says its looking into whether the contractor broke the city contract.
In June, the contractor’s manager told the Houston Chronicle that the city should have paid more, saying that the cost of cleaning up the contractor was more than $30,000.
Now, that contractor is facing a $15-per-hour charge.
The Chronicle reported on Tuesday that the Houston Contractors Association had been paying $13.50 an hour to the city for cleaning and maintenance services, up from $11.75 in June.
The organization said that in February, the organization also had to pay more than twice that amount for a new contractor.
The group has called on the city to pay the money back.
The contractor, John C. Smith, has not responded to the Tribune’s request for comment.
He has not yet filed a claim for reimbursement.
The contract with the city was set to expire in 2021, but it was extended through 2022.
“We were not obligated to continue,” city manager John Cannon told the Chronicle.
The City of Houston did not respond to a request for more information.
“I was told that this was a mistake by the contractor,” said David Johnson, a subcontractor and the Houston Water Utility, who also is not in the Houston Department of Water Management’s jurisdiction.
The state’s inspector general also is investigating whether the city paid the contractor a false bill.
“It’s the worst contract in the country,” said Johnson.
The general contractor in question, The H.L. Smith Contractors, has been the subject of multiple lawsuits in the past.
In March, the company pleaded guilty to false billing, and agreed to pay a $1 million fine.
But in December, a federal judge ordered the company to pay $10 million to settle a federal civil rights complaint that alleged the company discriminated against minorities in the hiring process.
“This is a major issue for us,” said Kevin P. Kuehn, the attorney for the contractor, “and this is something we are not going to let happen.”
Kueehn said the city would also be pursuing criminal charges against the contractor.
“He’s been paid to do a lot of dirty work, and he should be paid for it,” Kuehn said.
The company did not immediately respond to questions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.