Kenosha officials on Monday unanimously passed an ordinance extending new requirements on contractors who want to bid on public projects. Alderpeople said the new rules around apprenticeships would help the city’s younger population, while the measure drew concern from trades associations.
According to the ordinance text, contractors bidding on public projects will have to submit a sworn statement for criteria such as financial ability, experience and equipment. Under the new rule, future bidding contractors would have to participate in a Class A apprenticeship program.
Alderperson David Bogdala, who represents the 17th District, said the ordinance is meant to give the city’s young people new options and will look ahead for the next two decades.
“We need to make sure we’re giving our young people another alternative, and an option. We’re putting a premium price tag on a job in the trades,” Bogdala said at a city meeting.
Some contractors can be waived from the requirements if they are impractical and the contracting work serves the public interest, city officials said. For example, a sole proprietor providing landscaping services for the city may be exempted by the director of Public Works, officials added.
During the meeting, officials amended the new rules to exempt subcontractors who were responsible for 10% or less of the total project cost.
At a public hearing, Tobin Boyle, a business representative for the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, said taxpayers were entitled to know money spent on Kenosha projects would go to good players in construction.
“After prevailing wage went away a number of years ago, several municipalities are going to this. If we’re looking at the lowest responsible bidder, we’re looking at defining what responsible is. That’s because we’re on the hook for everything, just because you’re the lowest responsible bidder doesn’t mean you can perform this work. We don’t want to leave taxpayers holding the bag,” Boyle added.
On Sunday, four contractors’ associations asked the council to delay voting on the new section. In a statement, representatives in groups such as the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin and the Associated General Contractors of Greater Milwaukee said the proposed rules were vague and could affect the number of qualified bidders for projects.