Fortunato fights for Wilkeson reimbursement

92-year old unpaid invoice unearthed for construction of Capitol

Officials from the town of Wilkeson have discovered documents possibly indicating that the state of Washington failed to pay an invoice for the construction of the Legislative Building. Originally scheduled for April 1, they came to Olympia Friday collect.

State Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, represents the town and is fighting to help it get the now-substantial reimbursement.

“Wilkeson is a small town in my district, and I can only imagine the hardship this caused at the time,” said Fortunato. “Cities like Wilkeson are still struggling to meet the needs of their residents, and with all the extra money the state has taken in, we can afford to make good on this unpaid invoice.”

In 1927, then Wilkeson Mayor Ellis Roberts sent a letter to the state treasurer requesting immediate payment of $56,718.50. When the state failed to pay for the stone quarried by Walker Cut Stone Co., the city stepped in to cover the costs to avoid massive layoffs during Christmastime.

“I want to thank you [Mayor Ellis] for the payment of $56,718.50,” said R.G. Walker, president of the quarry, in a letter dated Dec. 21, 1927. “I was facing a difficult decision of having to lay off men before Christmas, due to the State not paying their final debts from the Stone provided at the Capitol Building. I will continue seeking repayment for these debts from the State…”

Fortunato has now taken on the 92-year endeavor of getting the state to pay the final invoice. “The contract was for $56,718.50 in the 1920s, I did some calculations and that is over $800,000 in today’s money,” said Fortunato. “You can see why the quarry owner was in a bind. The contract also stipulated a 5 percent interest clause, so I’m fighting for the town of Wilkeson to get the full amount they’re due – $5,588,932.83. That will be a huge boon to the town of 492 people.”

Town leaders and Fortunato will present the final invoice to the state treasurer Friday, April 5, at 2 p.m. They may even consider repossessing the stone, if the state continues to stonewall.

You can read the original contract here, and the letters quoted above, here.