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Home-field advantage costing Milwaukee taxpayers money

By Joe Yovino

Whether it’s sewer projects or pavement projects, Milwaukee’s local preference law is blind.

The city law gives Milwaukee-based companies a 5 percent bidding cushion, with a cap of $25,000, when bidding on city contracts.

D.C. Burbach was the low bidder Tuesday for paving work on 66th Street between Capitol Drive and Congress Street in Milwaukee. Burbach’s $241,217.10 bid was $604.80 less than Waukesha-based Zenith Tech’s bid (key word there being “Waukesha”) and $6,801.24 less than Greenfield-based Snorek Construction Inc. (key word there being “Greenfield”).

So three non-Milwaukee companies bid on a paving project with Burbach the lowest bidder.

Not so fast.

Apparently Snorek leases property in Milwaukee, which city officials say makes the company eligible to win the contract despite having the highest bid.

“I hope Milwaukee property owners know they’re going to pay $7,000 more for a guy that leases property in Milwaukee,” said John Stafford, senior estimator at Burbach. “It’s totally ridiculous.”

(Key word there being “ridiculous”).

Burbach isn’t the only company losing contracts to the Home Team. American Sewer President Dennis Biondich estimates his company has lost more than $3 million in work since October 2009 due to local preference.

American Sewer has filed appeals challenging local preference and lost a court battle.

Apparently justice is also blind.

Joe Yovino is the Web editor at The Daily Reporter. He has a parking spot for lease in Milwaukee if any companies are interested.

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