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Prevailing wage law changes proposed

March 27, 2003|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - One local official is trying to drum up support from area municipalities for a state bill that would change the prevailing wage law.

"Prevailing wage has been a problem for years," said Bill McLaughlin, president of the Chambersburg Borough Council. "This is our first opportunity to get some serious changes in prevailing wage."

McLaughlin addressed the Franklin County Council of Governments Wednesday morning. The council draws its membership from municipalities and school boards across the county.

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The state enacted the prevailing wage law in 1961, requiring public bodies to pay state-mandated wage rates for workers on construction or renovation projects that will cost more than $25,000. That threshold was approved in 1963 and has not been revised, McLaughlin said.

Allegheny County Rep. John Maher has introduced a bill to the house that would amend the threshold to $150,000.

"The only change is allowing for inflation," said Bob Thomas, president of the Council of Governments and a Franklin County commissioner.

The law is controversial because most public construction projects easily exceed the $25,000 figure, and prevailing wages drive up the cost of the projects because they do not reflect actual wage rates in the local community.

McLaughlin said this spring the Borough of Chambersburg will embark on a road project that engineers estimate will cost $150,000 with prevailing wages.

"Without that, we're looking at a 30 percent reduction in the cost of doing the project," he said. "There are tremendous savings to be made."

The Chambersburg Borough Council approved a resolution supporting Maher's bill on Tuesday, and McLaughlin urged the two dozen representatives at Wednesday's meeting to do the same in their own municipalities.

n The Council of Governments is also organizing a legislative forum April 5 with state Reps. Jeff Coy, Patrick Fleagle, Stephen Maitland and Allan Egolf, state Sen. Terry Punt and U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster.

Elected officials and administrators in the county's municipalities and school boards are invited to attend.

"This is the first time ever we have the opportunity to get all of our legislators in one place at one time," McLaughlin said.

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