City of Wichita Falls Settles Suit

Wichita Falls City Councilors voted to settle a nearly five year-old lawsuit Thursday afternoon. The unanimous decision came after over an hour of deliberating in executive session at a special-called council meeting.

The settlement involves a suit filed against the city by M W Builders of Texas in October of 2006. The suit alleges the city illegally withheld payments for contract work at the Cypress Water Treatment Plant.

M W Builders was awarded five contracts totaling around $25 million for work at the plant. The city began withholding payments in August of 2005 because of work delays. The suit claims those delays were the fault of the City of Wichita Falls and Siemens Water Technologies.

Council agreed to pay M W Builders $289,368 in addition to the more than $2.5 million in withheld payments. But City Attorney Miles Risley said city taxpayers are getting some value for the money. "The settlement of this lawsuit," he said, "is, in our opinion, the most cost-effective measure...for the taxpayers."

As part of the settlement, Siemens will provide the city with additional equipment and services at the plant. That, according to the resolution passed by council, should provide substantially increased capacity and life for the city's water treatment operation.

City officials aren't fully disclosing details of the settlement or commenting on the matter at length. Risley said the deal won't be final until it's approved and filed by 78th District Court Judge Barney Fudge.

Tim Barnosky, Newschannel 6.