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Baltimore contractor Holabird agrees to pay $91,000 to resolve claims it bilked the city

Baltimore’s spending panel is scheduled to accept $91,746 to drop claims against an auto repair and maintenance service in Southeast Baltimore that allegedly submitted inflated bills to the city for payment.

Holabird Enterprises of Maryland Inc. has agreed to repay the money and accept the return of five unused snowplows. In exchange, the city and company will drop lawsuits against each other, according to a Board of Estimates agenda.

The board is scheduled to consider Wednesday the settlement offer from Holabird and its principals, Lawrence Ward and Daniel Foy. The agreement would also bar the company from any city contract for five years.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Ward declined to comment.

The claims against Holabird surfaced last July in a report by the Baltimore Inspector General, who found the Fleet Management Division of the Department of General Services mismanaged contracts and overpaid for services. Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming said Holabird overcharged for snowplows and service work to city vehicles.

Cumming issued a second report two months later that found another company, Baltimore’s primary tow operator, was also overcharging the city. She wrote that city employees had rubber-stamped the inflated bills for years.

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How to best resolve a dispute with a home contractor

The final column in our painful moving saga concludes today by continuing the right moves to resolve your trials and tribulations. Sure, that expensive — at least to your family — undertaking may have turned out to be a lovely conclusion, but the stress was so intense, every hair on your head turned gray during the debacle. Let’s see what other options consumers “enjoy” to help resolve their dispute.

Arbitration clauses often are integral in dispute resolution cases, and professional arbiters can help fairly with a settlement. Even if no clause is included, you may be able to get the contractor with whom you are having your disagreement to agree to an arbitration proceeding to avoid dragging him or her into court. The objective in our current litigious society is to get the parties to present their case to an impartial third party (the arbiter) who will then render a decision. Whether it is binding or not is a question of the paperwork; for instance, did everybody sign a written agreement upfront guaranteeing compliance to the decision of the arbiter?

Fortunately, it goes without saying that cooler heads do prevail, and sitting down in a room with this mindset and a “leader” to try to solve the problem may succeed. I might add an option not usually mentioned is to use Mr. Trump’s reality punchline, “You’re fired!” if a contractor doesn’t perform quality work or — in my case — doesn’t work on the property consistently. Shoddy work will require fixing by a competent contractor, plus it may cost extra to undo the poorly completed work. Several years ago, we once hired a contractor to enclose a porch; the work was so substandard that we went through five other folks before the screened porch was effectively completed!

And, even if

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