To expedite the completion of city projects, the City Council on Tuesday reduced the number of days allowed for minority-owned and small businesses to submit proof of their minority or small-business status in the bidding process.
“I was concerned the five days was too long. Because if you have it, you have it,” Councilwoman Kelly Allen Gray said of the Minority Business Enterprise and Small Business Enterprise documentation.
The Business Diversity Enterprise ordinance previously gave companies five working days to submit their documentation, but the city staff said that slowed down the bidding process. The council unanimously voted to change the deadline from five working days to two.
“If you bid and you have won the bid, you should have all of your things together. You shouldn’t need another five to 10 days to submit information you already have available,” Gray said.
The changes to the ordinance approved Tuesday also enact penalties against companies that bid on projects but fail to submit the required minority-owned or small business documents within two days.
The first failure to submit will warrant a warning; the second failure to submit within a five-year period will disqualify businesses from bidding for a year, and the third failure to submit in the same five-year period will disqualify bidders for three years.
Businesses do not have to be certified as a minority/women business enterprise to bid on contracts, but such certification makes firms available to prime contractors seeking to meet the compliance requirements.
A contractor that is removed from the pre-qualification lists must apply for reinstatement after the penalty expires in order to bid.
“We have a huge bond that is rolling out. … We have to make sure everyone has a fair opportunity to bid, but also to win those bids,” Gray said, referring to the $292 million bond approved by voters in May.
The council has taken heat from residents for slowly completing bond projects from the 2004, 2007 and 2008 bond programs. Some 2004 bond projects are just now being completed, and city officials have promised a faster turnaround on the 2014 program, which focuses primarily on roads and other urgent infrastructure projects.
Gray said the new ordinance, which was also approved by the Minority/Women Business Enterprise Advisory Committee, will be reviewed by the staff again in December to make sure it is meeting the needs of the community.
The ordinance approved Tuesday also widens the pool of minority-owned and small-business owners who can take advantage of the diversity ordinance.
Previously, the city only counted the business whose principal places of business were in surrounding counties. Now, they will also include businesses that have a significant business presence in the marketplace, even if their principal place of business is somewhere else.
Minority-owned and small businesses can be certified by the North Central Texas Regional Certification Agency.
In other business
The council also denied by a 6-3 vote a zoning request to allow a commercial office building at the entrance of the Crestwood neighborhood near Rockwood Park.
The Crestwood Neighborhood Association vehemently opposed the project, saying it would encroach on their residential neighborhood.
The property, owned by Chad and Mimi Stephens, has a 12-unit apartment complex. The owners were proposing to change that into a family office building at the corner of North Bailey Avenue and White Settlement Road.
Councilman Dennis Shingleton, who represents the area, made the motion to deny. Mayor Betsy Price and Councilmen W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman and Danny Scarth voted against Shingleton’s motion.
Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984