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Home / Commercial Construction / Supervisor revives resident hiring goal in Milwaukee County (UPDATE)

Supervisor revives resident hiring goal in Milwaukee County (UPDATE)

By Sean Ryan

The piles of paperwork in William Sackerson Construction Co.’s offices grow with every job, and the company president fears a Milwaukee County hiring goal will only add to the stack.

If that happens, John Sackerson said, the county ultimately will pay the price. His Cudahy-based company, he said, has only two people working in the administrative office.

“They’re either coming out of your profit,” Sackerson said, “or they’re coming out of the cost of the project.”

Milwaukee County Board supervisors this month will consider reviving a goal that half of the wages paid on public works projects goes to workers who live in Milwaukee County. The goal would come with rules, one of which would require contractors report and county contract officials track worker addresses on payrolls.

“I don’t think there’s anything cumbersome about it, particularly relating to public works requirements,” said Supervisor Theo Lipscomb, sponsor of the proposal. “We already have prevailing wage requirements, so there’s already wage reporting.”

But Sackerson said new paperwork always follows new government requirements on contracts.

“The paperwork has expanded exponentially over the years,” he said. “It used to be you could do this out of a cigar box.”

Milwaukee County in 1995 set a goal that half of the wages on public works contracts go to county residents, but the county has not monitored the progress, or lack of progress, since 1998. The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors Committee on Transportation, Public Works and Transit on Wednesday will consider reinstating the goal and tracking contractor compliance.

Lipscomb said the goal does not require additional forms. Worker addresses already are included in prevailing wage reports, so the county can add another box to the form for builders to check if a worker lives in or outside the county.

The city of Milwaukee already requires city residents work half of the hours on public works projects. The city requires contractors submit reports on resident participation every three weeks or within 10 days of completing a project.

To satisfy city reporting requirements, general contractors must collect and compile certified payrolls from all subcontractors every month, said Klaus Lemke, Miron Construction Co. Inc. vice president of Milwaukee operations. Lemke said the paperwork does not concern him as much as the possibility the goal will reduce competition.

“There certainly is added paperwork for us,” he said. “Though there’s so much paperwork involved in every job. This is just one more piece. But it’s not like we have to create a whole new division to do this.”

Lipscomb said contractors should be able to handle one more column in their spreadsheets. The county, he said, should perform random audits of builders’ reports to make sure they are meeting the local hiring goals included in their bids.

Lipscomb said he wants to consider giving a bid preference to companies that meet the 50 percent hiring goal. But in its early stages, the program would not reward contractors for satisfying the goal.

Sackerson said there is no reward for bidding document add-ons that have nothing to do with the traditional bricks and sticks.

“It seems to be a never-ending process of more and more paperwork on these jobs,” he said, “and now the county’s got to have more people to administer it.”

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