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Builder's troubles delay Swiftmud office

A subcontractor's financial problems have delayed construction on the $4.6-million expansion of the Southwest Florida Water Management District's Brooksville headquarters by at least a month, but district officials still are confident the expansion will be completed by October 1991. Grading subcontractor Bubba's Construction Co. of Clearwater stopped working on the district's 50,000-square-foot expansion about a month ago after it was unable to pay worker's compensation insurance premiums required by law.

Three weeks ago, Bubba's Construction filed for protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 11 frees a company from legal action by creditors until the company reorganizes its finances.

"They've had a token work force out here, but they haven't had any real effect (on the project) for about a month," said John Campbell, assistant director of operations for the water district, known as Swiftmud.

"There has been a delay . . . but we anticipate we will be able to make that up assuming that the bankruptcy goes okay," he said.

Bubba's Construction will have a hearing Wednesday in the Federal Bankruptcy Court in Tampa, where a list of creditors and debtors and a preliminary reorganization plan is expected to be presented.

The company won an $805,000 contract earlier this year to perform all of the site work on the Swiftmud job by general contractor Wehr Constructors Inc. of Brandon.

Michael Hargett, president of Bubba's Construction, blamed his year-old company's woes on delayed payments by Wehr for work at the Swiftmud site, on U.S. 41 near the Hernando County Airport.

"We'd like to get in and finish this job, but they (Wehr) have basically shut us down," Hargett said. "They're coming up with all sorts of ways of delaying payment to us."

Wehr officials familiar with the Swiftmud project could not be reached for comment Monday.

Hargett said despite the Chapter 11 filing, he expects to complete site work on the Swiftmud building by April as scheduled.

When the three-story building is finished, it will house a half-dozen Swiftmud departments.

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