Developers contend Harriman owes them

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By The Staff


Roane Newspapers

An investigation released by state auditors last spring showed that Pinnacle Pointe developers owe Harriman more than $230,000 for work the city paid for excavating and grading the site.

Now the developers have come back with an audit of their own that indicates the city instead owes them more than $200,000.

Jim Scott, a former assistant district attorney at the Kingston office, is representing Steve Kirk-ham and Jerry Duncan, partners in Prestige Land Co. which developed Pinnacle Pointe.

He said the developers hired an accounting firm to do an audit, and the results conflict with those of an investigative team from the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.

Harriman officials said Friday they have not received a copy of the private audit.

Harriman City Attorney Harold Balcom was skeptical that the city owes the developers anything.

“For work the city paid for grading for Lowe’s and for Kroger, and we would owe them? I don’t be-lieve that,” he said.

“As far as I am concerned, at this point, we’re owed a good chunk of money,” Balcom said. “And we’d like to get paid.”

Which audit is right?

Balcom said city officials would have to analyze the private audit when they receive it, but he found reason to put his trust in the state’s accounting of the issue.

“I don’t think the state would manufacture the numbers because the state wouldn’t (get anything for doing so),” he said.

Scott, who said weeks ago that he would try to get the Roane County News copies of the private audit, still had not as of Friday.

He would not speak in detail about the results of that private audit.

What he would say Friday was this:

“From what I understand, the figures that were released weren’t actually complete figures,” Scott said.

“The accurate figures are in, and they’re encouraging Harriman to conduct their own independent audit if they want to because they are so confident of the results of the independent audit,” Scott said.

When asked if the results should be sent to the state to be compared, Scott said it was premature to comment.

“I think the ball is in Harriman’s court on that,” Scott said.

When asked if the developers would be pursuing the money their audit finds the city owes, Scott wouldn’t say.

For months, Kirkham and Duncan have failed to return calls from the Roane County News seek-ing comment on the issue.

Last week, someone in Duncan’s office referred a Roane County News reporter to Scott for com-ment.

At press time this Friday, Scott left a message that the audit was on its way to city officials.

Harriman Mayor Chris Mason wants a resolution to the issue.

He said he will have City Treasurer Charles Kerley and Balcom look at an audit if it surfaces.

“They’ll be the ones to handle it from now on,” Mason said.

He said with both sides now claiming they owe each other, only one thing for certain.

“Somebody owes somebody,” Mason said.

Kerley said he would have to see the audit before he has much to say about it.

“It is valid to look at,” he said, but said an independent audit, such as the state’s, might have more credence.

“We’d have to see who did it and the scope of coverage,” he added.

He said one factor in the credibility was whether it includes work that the city did not agree to.

Kerley said if the audit includes all the work included at Pinnacle Pointe, it might include work that does not qualify.

“You may find more than what the city agreed to do,” Kerley said.

He said in considering an audit he would be asking for the paperwork they used to reach their figures.

“I’d like to see any invoices they have if they had an audit,” Kerley said.