Commissioners back 'prevailing wage' reform

SMETHPORT – The McKean County Board of Commissioners went on record Tuesday in favor of state legislation to reform the "prevailing wage" act.Commissioners Joe DeMott, Al Pingie and Cliff Lane endorsed legislation that boosts the "threshold" for "prevailing wage" projects from $25,000 to $185,000.Under the current law adopted in 1961, contractors bidding on municipal projects must agree to pay "prevailing wages" to their workers if the project cost is $25,000 or more. According to the county resolution, "prevailing wage requirements can increase the cost of many middle-range projects, generally by 10 to 15 percent depending on the region" and "as much as 20 to 30 percent in some rural areas."The resolution claims that some municipal projects "simply will not get done" because of the higher costs linked with prevailing wages."McKean County would be able to undertake several projects without prevailing wages if the threshold were increased to $185,000 to adjust for inflation," the resolution reads.The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania also is supporting the legislation to raise the threshold for "prevailing wage" projects.DeMott said the increase in the threshold for "prevailing wage" projects would "save us a lot of money." He said the county would "have more bidders" without the prevailing wage clause in the bidding rules for smaller projects.Pingie said it would be "a positive move" to raise the prevailing wage threshold. He said he believes small projects would become "more affordable" without the prevailing wage requirement.Lane said that raising the threshold for prevailing wage jobs is "long overdue."In other business at the 10-minute meeting at the county courthouse, the commissioners:*Adopted a new "safety policy statement" covering safety and health program activities for county employees. DeMott said the county's insurance carrier requests the adoption of the statement every four years.*Approved an application from Bradford Township for the use of $11,275 in county fuel tax aid. The applicant plans to use the money to "chip and seal various township roads."See full article by purchasing the March 7 edition of The Kane Republican.