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Portage mayor proposes ordinance to counter common wage repeal
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Portage mayor proposes ordinance to counter common wage repeal

PORTAGE | Mayor James Snyder has proposed an ordinance he believes will counteract this year's repeal of the common construction wage by state legislators.

Called a "responsible bidders ordinance," it will require contractors bidding on municipal projects in excess of $150,000 to follow new, stricter guidelines before receiving a contract from Portage.

Snyder said they began looking into the ordinance following the repeal of the common wage law, fearing companies who would do "shabby" work could receive city projects.

He said he worked with the Construction Advancement Foundation and the Northwest Indiana Building Trades to develop the ordinance, which is the first of its kind in the region.

Several Illinois communities have adopted similar ordinances along with some downstate Indiana communities, including Terre Haute and Bloomington adopted similar ordinances a half dozen years ago. Snyder said Portage is the only community considering the ordinance in light of changes by the state.

He said the idea is to "make sure we have contractors doing the work using the proper safety, training and payroll," adding they must comply with the federal Davis-Bacon act.

While the proposed ordinance does not call for or even mention union contractors, Snyder said "my goal is to have union labor do Portage projects."

Snyder hopes the ordinance is passed by the City Council on Tuesday night before the city goes out for bids for the police station and performance pavilion projects.

City Council President Sue Lynch said, while she wants to do a bit more research on how RBOs have been used in other communities, she supports the proposal.

"Its a good government policy to have because it protects our taxpayers," she said, adding it holds contractors to higher standards.

"It is a huge step in the right direction. I feel very positive about it," Lynch said.

Included in the new requirements is proof that bidders are registered with the state and in good standing; are not in violation of any federal, state or local laws; evidence of participation in apprenticeship and training programs approved by the U.S. Department of Labor; have a drug testing program in place; proof of professional and trade licenses and provide a statement on staffing capabilities, including labor laws.

The information would be required not only of primary contractors, but for any subcontractors hired to perform work on the project upon the city's request.

Contractors would also have to be required to provide detailed payroll information for projects costing $250,000 and above.

The information, according to the proposed ordinance, would be required by the city to determine the most "responsive and responsible" contractor for a job.

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.

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