STEUBENVILLE - The Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority board of commissioners Wednesday awarded a $2 million energy audit contract to the Tenth Avenue Group in a split vote.
Commissioners Les Zapor, David Hindman and Gerald DiLoreto favored the Aliquippa-based company while commissioners Rue Mitchell and Charles Lewis voted in favor of the Honeywell Group.
Representatives from those two firms and Constellation Energy addressed the board prior to the vote.
The contract vote ended in a two-to-two tie at the June board meeting when DiLoreto was absent.
"All three companies are qualified for this project, but looking at the savings between the Tenth Avenue Group and Honeywell reflects a $400,000 savings. The difference between the Tenth Avenue Group and Constellation Energy is $240,000 in savings. That is significant. I don't see how you can justify the higher cost," said Zapor.
Mitchell favored the Honeywell company citing, "you get what you pay for."
"We hired the less expensive contractor to build a duplex three years ago and all we have is drawings and no duplex. If we had hired the more expensive contractor then we would probably have a duplex by now," noted Mitchell.
He also cited the experience of Honeywell but was opposed by Hindman, who said companies can't get experience without a job.
"I wouldn't be in business today if people had wanted only experienced companies," said Hindman.
In other business during the monthly meeting, the board approved a three-year contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union that represents the housing authority's unionized workers.
JMHA Executive Director Joe Costantini said the union workers will receive a 5 percent lump sum payment the first year of the contract and a 2 percent pay pay raise in the second and third year of the agreement.
The board also heard from several residents who questioned parking issues in the John F. Kennedy apartment complex parking lot.
"We have talked about a gated parking lot for several years. There are just not enough parking spaces available in the lot. We are going to have to look at putting in a parking lot at the site of the former Elmer White apartments across the street. We will also have to look at a parking permit system," stated Costantini.
The board went into an executive session following the public meeting to discuss what Costantini described as, "issues raised by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Cleveland office representative during his local visit and investigation."
Jimmy Davis, a public housing revitalization specialist, said at a special July 10 board meeting he could not publicly discuss the contents of a report he will submit to the Cleveland field office, but did note he will make several recommendations.
Davis said he reviewed the JMHA policies and regulations following a request from U.S. Rep Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, for an investigation into alleged criminal activity in public housing units in Jefferson County.
The congressman filed his request with the HUD offices in Washington, D.C., on June 26.
Johnson was asked by city and Jefferson County officials on June 11 to initiate a congressional investigation into alleged drug activities, murders, shootings and domestic assaults in local public housing properties as well as federal subsidized Section 8 housing.