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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Monday, October 5, 2015 by Jo Clifton
Council OKs purchase despite complaints
Although some City Council members worried about the lack of minority participation in the agreement, Council voted 9-2-1 on Thursday to approve a contract with Community Trucking LLC to provide crushed rock for various city departments in an amount up to $993,603. The company will also have three 12-month extension options for a total contract of just less than $2 million.
Council Member Leslie Pool pulled the item for discussion because of complaints from minority contractors that the contract had no subcontracting opportunities and therefore no minority business participation goals.
City purchasing officer James Scarboro told Council that his department tried to find minority contracting opportunities for the purchase, even contacting possible minority contractors individually to see whether they were interested in bidding. There were no positive responses, he said.
Juan Oyervides of the U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association argued that Council should not approve the contract but should break up the big contract into smaller ones so that minority contractors would be able to bid more easily.
Scarboro responded that breaking up the contract would probably cost the city more money than implementing the one contract as recommended.
Mayor Steve Adler suggested that Council approve the contract but refer the issue to the Council Economic Opportunity Committee. Council Member Sheri Gallo said the Minority-Owned/Woman-Owned Business Enterprise program and Small Business Advisory Committee, made up of interested citizens, should also look at the issue.
Veronica Lara, director of the Small & Minority Business Resources Department, said she would make sure that the contract is on the agenda for that group’s next meeting. Pool noted that the minority community would be making reports to the Economic Opportunity Committee.
Council then voted to approve the contract with Pool and Council Member Ora Houston opposed and Council Member Don Zimmerman abstaining.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Austin City Council Economic Opportunity Committee: The Economic Opportunity Committee reviews the city’s economic opportunities and matters related to fair wage and business contracting policies.
MBE/WBE and Small Business Enterprise Procurement Program Advisory Committee: The Small Business Enterprise Procurement Program Advisory Committee reviews the city manager’s report and recommends changes to City Code.