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Milwaukee invokes local preference on another water contract

By: Joe Yovino//June 2, 2010//

Milwaukee invokes local preference on another water contract

By: Joe Yovino//June 2, 2010//

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By Sean Ryan

American Sewer Services Inc. is facing the loss of a fifth contract to Milwaukee’s local business preference.

American Sewer, Rubicon, on Wednesday morning submitted a low bid of $600,880 for a Milwaukee water main contract. But the Milwaukee Department of Public Works recommended the city accept Milwaukee-based M.J. Construction Inc.’s $602,865 bid because of a city law giving a 5 percent bid preference to Milwaukee-based companies.

Including this contract, American Sewer will have lost more than $2 million in Milwaukee projects to M.J. Construction because of the local preference, said Dennis Biondich, American Sewer president.

“We’re running two crews now,” he said, “when in the past we’ve run anywhere between three and five.”

Biondich said he will challenge the city’s recommended award, sending an appeal to a panel of Milwaukee officials who have unanimously rejected all of American Sewer’s past appeals. He said he does not expect to win the contract, but at least wants to send a message to Milwaukee elected officials.

A Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge in late April rejected most of the arguments American Sewer made in a lawsuit against the local preference. Biondich said he is awaiting the judge’s final decision and has not decided whether to appeal the case.

He said the best chance to get the city law repealed is a change in state laws. The Wisconsin Underground Contractors Association members are planning to lobby for a state law change in 2011, he said.


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