Councilman submits proposal to hold contractors accountable, help businesses impacted by construction

City Council continues efforts to help with construction woes

SAN ANTONIO – District 1 Councilman Mario Bravo submitted a recommendation to the city council on Monday to help hold contractors accountable, adding to other efforts to help struggling businesses impacted by construction in San Antonio.

Bravo recommends raising the missed deadline fine amount, which currently varies between $700 and $2,000.

“Let’s take these daily fines that are accumulating and instead of the city taking that money, let’s give it to the local businesses that are being impacted,” he said.

Bravo also wants to give contractors incentives, like rewarding them for finishing jobs ahead of schedule.

What the dollar amounts will look like for the increased fines and incentives is still being determined.

“It’s that should’ve, would’ve, could’ve -- like you wished it would have happened a long time ago,” said Sergio Acosta, owner of the Social Spot. Ricky Ortiz, the owner of El Camino, added, “It’d be nice if the city could think of these things before they start their projects.”

Although there are some frustrations, both business owners are thankful something is being done as opposed to nothing.

Bravo responded to criticism of why certain measures weren’t in place sooner.

“I don’t know what happened before I got here, but I inherited these projects, and I tried to help the people who are being impacted now. And I’m trying to make sure we don’t cause these problems in the future,” said Bravo said if his recommendations are approved, they likely won’t go into effect until June or July. His proposal came a week after the San Antonio City Council implemented the Responsible Bidders Ordinance and just ahead of the COVID-19 Construction Recovery Grant Program application window opening.

The Responsible Bidders Ordinance gives the council more say in the contractor hiring process instead of having to take the lowest bid.

The ordinance allows project directors to score contractors out of 100. If the contractor scores below 70, they could be prohibited from bidding for a city project for three years.

The COVID-19 Construction Recovery Grant Program will bring relief to some qualifying businesses in 15 different construction corridors.

San Antonio City Manager Erik Walsh approved allocating $2.25 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for direct grants. Businesses that qualify can get a maximum of $35,000.

When the grant program was agreed on in early January, Bravo said it would be a competitive application process.

“It’s not enough to make everyone whole. My goal is let’s make sure nobody goes out of business,” Bravo said on Jan. 12.

The website for the grant program went live on Monday. The application window is between Feb. 13 and Feb. 28, and funds will be distributed in April, according to Bravo.

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About the Authors:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.