Two Truckee policies aim to keep town funding local
TRUCKEE ” As the economy continues to squeeze contractors, the town has set prevailing wage and local preference policies to try and keep more money in the area.
The two policies, adopted by town council over the past few weeks, are designed to take local sales and property taxes in Truckee and put them in the hands of local contractors for town public works projects.
“I think this was driven partly by the economy ” there has been a higher level of interest in both of these things,” said Dan Wilkins, director of public works and engineering.
Wilkins said both programs will be evaluated for effectiveness over the next year.
The first issue town council tackled was prevailing wage ” the wage contractors have to pay workers when performing government contracts like road work or other construction.
The council unanimously voted in favor of setting prevailing wage at 83 percent of the state prevailing wage ” an attempt to give local contractors a leg-up in bidding for projects, said Tony Lashbrook, town manager ” but union members ranging from South Lake Tahoe to Sacramento took issue with the idea.
Mike Berg, an agent with the Carpenters Local 2035 in Kings Beach, said the local prevailing wage weakens union’s bidding ability, and makes it harder for worker to keep up with the cost of living.
“When the town formed the first prevailing wage it made it very difficult,” Berg said. “It had a devastating effect on me ” it came to the point where I couldn’t keep my house.”
The first prevailing wage was set in 1995, shortly after the town’s 1993 incorporation, when voters decided that Truckee should be charter town, Wilkins said, allowing the town to control prevailing wage beyond state standards.
The wage is a result of a survey of what local contractors pay, Wilkins said, and after the town moved to state wages in 2007, council brought back a prevailing wage at the request of the Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe.
Pat Davison, executive director of the contractors association, said the local prevailing wage helps funding for local projects go to local contractors.
The local prevailing wage can only be used on projects funded 100 percent with local funds ” no state, federal, or redevelopment money ” which accounts for about 50 percent of town projects, Wilkins said.
Local preference assigns a theoretical 5 percent discount to local contractors, giving them lower bids compared to out-of-area contractors, Wilkins said.
So if contractor A from Truckee bid $100,000, and contractor B from Sacramento bid $100,000, the Truckee contractor’s bid would look like $95,000 and they would then win the bid ” even though they still get paid $100,000, Davison said.
“The theory is if the dollars are generated locally and spent locally that provides a benefit to the community,” Wilkins said.
Local contractors are defined as those with at least 40 percent of their payroll going to residents in the three Truckee zip codes, Davison said.
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