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Wisconsin contractors urge Kenosha council to delay vote over bidding ordinance

By: Ethan Duran//September 18, 2023//

A construction worker wires rebar for a foundation, Friday, March 17, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

Wisconsin contractors urge Kenosha council to delay vote over bidding ordinance

By: Ethan Duran//September 18, 2023//

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Several Wisconsin contractors’ associations have asked the Kenosha Common Council to delay voting on an ordinance regarding public bidding, citing concerns about general contractors’ ability to compete ahead of the council’s Monday meeting.

Kenosha officials will meet at 7 p.m. Monday to decide whether to create Section 5.001 and add it to the city code of general ordinances. The drafted ordinance requires all contractors submitting bids on public projects to submit a sworn statement for criteria such as financial ability, work experience, participation in apprenticeship programs and being free of investigations over employment practices.

The effort was sponsored by Alderpersons David Bogdala, Curt Wilson, Rocca LaMacchia, Dominic Ruffalo and Jack Rose.

The ordinance includes requirements for contractors that bid on public projects to participate in Class A apprenticeship programs, to not be under investigation for certain employment practices and have no serious or repeated Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) violations over the past 10 years.

However, the contractors’ associations said in a letter to city officials they were concerned about the new section and added it would lower the number of qualified bidders on projects. They asked the Kenosha to delay voting on the rule.

“We are concerned about the proposal to create Section 5.001 of the code of general ordinances for the city of Kenosha regarding public bidding. While well intentioned, the ordinance if enacted as currently drafted would cause confusion and unnecessary regulations, thereby decreasing the number of qualified bidders on projects and increasing taxpayers’ costs,” the letter said.

The Associated General Contractors of Wisconsin, Associated General Contractors of Greater Milwaukee, Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Wisconsin Association and the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin on Sunday signed the joint statement to the Kenosha Common Council.

Under the proposed rule, contractors must have general liability, worker’s compensation and automobile insurance at all levels to protect the city. In its response, the association asked for clarification and pointed to a 2017 public works request for proposal rule as a sufficient answer.

The associations also highlighted concerns for the following criteria.

  • Contractors to participate in a Class A apprenticeship program;
  • Contractors not under investigation for employment practices;
  • Contractors with adequate financial resources to complete a project;
  • Contractors that have not had willful or serious OSHA violations in the past 10 years; and
  • Contractors that have completed five similar projects in the past five years.

The Daily Reporter reached out to Bogdala for comment. As reported by Kenosha News, Bogdala said he spoke to union leaders and laborers about the effort.

According to the draft, the ordinance aligns with Wisconsin Statute § 66.0901, which requires municipalities looking to enter a public contract to obtain a sworn statement from a contractor before granting work.

“A municipality intending to enter into a public contract may, before delivering any form for bid proposals, plans, and specifications to any person, except suppliers, and others not intending to submit a direct bid, require the person to submit a full and complete statement sworn to before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths. The statement shall consist of information relating to financial ability, equipment, experience in the work prescribed in the public contract, and other matters that the municipality requires for the protection and welfare of the public in the performance of a public contract,” according to the law.

In May, Kenosha officials unveiled plans to redevelop nine downtown blocks into more than 1,000 apartments. Officials were in talks with Milwaukee-based Cobalt Partners and Fond du Lac-based C.D. Smith for the downtown development plan.


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