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Plumbing contractor to stay open despite tax warrants

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, April 10, 2014, at 12 a.m.

The owner of plumbing and mechanical contractor P&E Commercial Services said the company will remain open, despite a large state tax bill.

The state has issued tax warrants against P&E Commercial Services, 3741 N. Topeka, for $102,856 in sales tax and $56,916 in withholding tax.

Owner Peter Ratcliffe said he hopes to get the amount knocked down, but whatever happens, the company will remain in business and work off the debt.

Ratcliffe said the company mistakenly underbid a contract for the plumbing and mechanical work at the new Northeast Magnet High School in 2010.

Ratcliffe had bought the company in 2008. He said he and other senior staff at the company were new, the project was complex, and they just missed one of the buildings in assembling the bid.

“No wonder we won the bid,” he said, with a rueful laugh.

He said the company “lost a fortune,” but Ratcliffe decided to pay his vendors before his taxes – and hope for the best from the state.

“The vendors are all little guys who depend on being paid,” he said. “Rather than put them in trouble, we decided to pay them first.”

So far, he said, the state hasn’t been very forgiving. He said he will hire a tax attorney to negotiate.

It will take time, he said, but the debt will be paid off. And in the future they’ll stay away from $6 million projects.

“It’s been an education,” he said. “My wife asked if it couldn’t have a been a little less expensive.”

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