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Alter rejects contract with Piatra Inc.

Friday, October 4, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Council approved awarding a construction contract with Piatra Inc. without discussion during the consent portion of Thursday’s agenda. Council Member Alison Alter was the sole vote against authorizing the contract. Alter chairs the Council Audit and Finance Committee, which heard extensive negative comments about work the company had previously done for low-income homeowners under a contract with the city’s Home Rehabilitation Loan Program. Alter told the Austin Monitor after the vote that her decision was influenced by hearing from “folks who had a bad experience with (Piatra) … I’m not sure why we’re giving this contract to them under the circumstances. But I don’t have enough information to raise a larger stink about it.” Attorney Bill Aleshire, who represented homeowners Suzanne Janel and Janis Walker as they sought repairs to their homes, told the Monitor via email, “If Piatra’s work is supervised by city staff on this new contract as well as they monitored Piatra’s work on Ms. Janel’s and Ms. Walker’s homes, Austin taxpayers are about to get ripped off. What a terrific way to cover up bad performance – pile lots of tax dollars on top of it!” Piatra Inc. is no longer participating in the city program, but as the only bidder seeking to do renovations on the Kramer Building E. Relay project, the company obviously had the inside track. The contract may amount to $564,283.50.

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