Delays and “unforeseen problems,” as well as personal medical hardships, have led the builder of Austin’s city hall expansion to ask for “leniency” in settling the final payment for the work. “He is asking for mercy,” Mayor Bernie Chamberlain said in remarks Monday, before the regular meeting of the Austin City Council.


After discussion the council voted to grant the “leniency,” in the form of a lowered final bill.


Austin aldermen Philip Whiting, Tammy Williams, Randy Ryan, Laurel Carnes, Rusty Eisenhower and Kasai Finley attended the meeting.


The council also heard of final preparation for citywide automated trash service.


“It took more than a year to get this built; it was supposed to take six months,” Chamberlain said, speaking before the meeting, of the newly completed expansion of the city hall. The expansion added offices and a multi-purpose room used for council meetings, district court, and as a community area.


The delays led to $30,700 in penalties against Warrior Enterprises of Van Buren.


In a July 20 letter to the city council, Jay Hightower of Warrior Enterprises acknowledged that supervision of the project was not adequate, by the project supervisor “not staying on top of the job.”


In the letter, Hightower noted that he was recently retired from the military “with 100% disability,” suffering “injuries from my head to my feet.” He said the treatment of his disabilities had required frequent hospitalizations, preventing him from, personally, supervising the project, forcing him to rely on the someone else, who did not meet expectations.


Chamberlain said the remaining balance owed by the city is $47,908; the balance would be reduced by amount of penalties to about $17,000.


After discussion, the council approved granting leniency.


In another matter, city hall manager Randy McKenzie said distribution of 96-gallon trash carts for automated trash pickup, would begin Tuesday, Aug. 29. Each residence will be assigned a cart The trash service will begin Sept. 4.