Contractors working on city construction projects will be required to hire Evanston workers under an ordinance introduced at City Council Monday.

The plan would require that 15 percent of the work on construction projects valued at over $500,000 be performed by city residents.

The city’s business development coordinator, Lloyd Shepard, says the city has a list of about 30 local residents who are seeking construction jobs and would be eligible to benefit from the program.

He said the city will also reach out to unions to identify additional workers who could benefit from the program.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she favors increasing the hiring of Evanston residents for city construction jobs, but that implementation of the program “is going to be an absolute nightmare.”

She said the rules are too complicated and will be difficult for contractors to follow.

But Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, said the staff could “tweak the implementation of the ordinance so it will work well.”

“We need to put this in practice and monitor it to see that it’s working,” Jean-Baptiste said.

Rainey voted against the ordinance in the Public Works Committee but at the full council meeting joined the rest of the aldermen in voting for its introduction.

The ordinance was modified following earlier debate to raise the city hiring requirement from 5 percent to 15 percent and to eliminate an exclusion for projects lasting less than 90 days.

The ordinance is scheduled for final adoption at the council’s next meeting, Dec. 8.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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8 Comments

  1. RICO?
    Seriously, this has gone beyond a jobs program and veered into outright extortion. Does anyone still wonder why developers try to max out the size of the buildings? This town is so hostile towards development and ordinances like this one establish more barriers. Add to this the onerous ‘appearance reviews’ and the cost to build becomes so great that a project requires huge amounts of rentable space to succeed.
    How many of these local hires also have to be relatives of council members?

    Reply:
    Perhaps the story did not make sufficiently clear that the ordinance only applies to CITY construction projects — projects paid for with city funds. You seem to have concluded that it applies to any construction project in the city. That’s not correct.
    — Bill

    1. This applys to all projects and taxpayers,
      Bill you are 100% correct the ordinance only applies to city projects but its effective cost is on all projects in an indirect manner.

      The cost of this program is not zero, even if we assumed no change in cost which is not likely. The cost of the city employee who no doubt makes $100,000 in benefits and salary is built into the program to monitor it. Thus we pay and the non-city project will pay indirectly.

      In my opinion the cost of this program will be several hundred thousand dollars a year in waste!

      1. What applies to all taxpayers?
        Junad — You wrote: “The cost of this program is not zero . . .The cost of the city employee who no doubt makes $100,000 in benefits and salary is built into the program to monitor it. Thus we pay and the non-city project will pay indirectly.”

        Please provide a cost example of what you are projecting. Note that I am not entirely sold on the new format for this program. However, I am having some difficulty following your logic. Right now, it is not adding up for me and sounds like a philosophical stance, rather than a financial statement.

        First, the employee who will be monitoring this is already in place. I am assuming that the only way to reduce that cost is to eliminate entirely the focus of his office, which is different than the new benchmarks for Evanston hires. Are you suggeting that the entire program be scrapped for minority and women businesses?

        And second, what is the indirect cost for the “non-city project?” Each project will have to hire an employee for every FTE of resources needed to complete the job. How is it a greater indirect cost to hire locally than from somewhere else?

        1. Higher taxes apply to all taxpayers
          Let me start with your statement ( also you should read my blog on this program that I posted if you want a more detailed view )

          First, the employee who will be monitoring this is already in place. I am assuming that the only way to reduce that cost is to eliminate entirely the focus of his office, which is different than the new benchmarks for Evanston hires. Are you suggeting that the entire program be scrapped for minority and women businesses?

          Interesting – since this employee will be now monitoring every construction bid package -that goes out for this compliance – what is the employee currently doing with his time?

          Yes – I would like to know just how sucessful the entire minority contractor program is really. I have been told by city employees it is adding cost to the work. There is no one in the city manager office in my opinion who would be willing to look into this – to determine if it is really adding cost.

          Why can’t the contract administrators in the city monitor this proposed new effort – what value does this position add to the effort? ( since you might be an employee of the city you might know? )

          This question you are asking is confusing.

          And second, what is the indirect cost for the “non-city project?” Each project will have to hire an employee for every FTE of resources needed to complete the job. How is it a greater indirect cost to hire locally than from somewhere else?

          You use the term FTE – only a city employee would use that – but never the less – the indirect cost is the fact this program will add cost – period! – since it is not real world base. All taxpayers will end up paying –

          Finally you use the term “philosophical stance” – no my stance is base on real world experience – the employees who actually do the bid work at the city ( facilites, engineering and water )know this program is a waste. Not the employees and council members who want to have this program ( contract administators and city manager employees ) who are not responsible for getting any real work done in the area of construction projects.

          1. So what are those costs?
            Junad — Again, I am not certain i follow your point in explaining your initial comments. Again, I am not sure how I feel about the program, and I am not disagreeing with your feeling about the program. But I am not clear about your points. You wrote: “. . . the indirect cost is the fact this program will add cost – period! – since it is not real world base. All taxpayers will end up paying.”

            Please explain how hiring more people from Evanston is adding costs. Is the focus on local hires what you are saying is not “real world base?” What are the specific, additional costs? I follow you that they will affect all of us. But what are those costs and why are they additional as a result of the change in the program?

            Incidentally, you also wrote: “You use the term FTE – only a city employee would use that – but never the less. . .” Well, nevertheless, I am not a City employee. But using the term FTE may also mean that I have extensive background in budgeting, or I am managing a number of federal grants, or I am working for the federal Office of Management and Budget, or I am grant-funded for a project at a university, or I am a manager of any organization that has to project FTEs in developing my own operating budget, or . . .

            I also try to write in complete thoughts and complete sentences. This does not make me a teacher or a university professor or a fiction writer.

  2. We clearly can not communicate.
    The simple reason you are having a problem is you have no background in the construction industry. ( it appears you have background in government or non-for-profits )

    You think that requiring a contractor to go to some list of Evanston residents and hiring them is a workable solution for him to get a job done?

    How would you bid a job?

    Contractors add costs for unknowns. The cost will go up, or alternatively if they bid low and do not consider the unknowns and they have problems city staff will be involved. ( wasting staff time is tax dollars wasted)

    How much will the contractor added to job? Let me say this if I were in a position I had a $500,000 job – and about $200,000 was labor and I had to have $30,000 of Evanston Residents hired. If I was conservative I might put an additional $30,000 if I want to take a risk, maybe $15,000.

    Maybe there would be no problem if I knew I could hire one or two qualified residents that I knew, but that would most likely not be the case.

    Thus what is likely to happen the contractors will just past the costs on in higher bid prices – the nonsense staff is claiming it will not happen, is not real world.

    Also there would be no set rule as to how much the costs are going to go up since each job is unique and each job may requie a certain skill set of labor.

    If you doubt me, you need to go talk to some reputable contractors and explain what the city is doing and see what their response will be! ( not your friends in government or the non-for-profit sector )

    1. Fortress Evanston
      Junad,

      While you are right that a requirement to hire Evanston residents is a bad idea and adds to costs, I think that you are missing the bigger picture here.

      The requirement to hire Evanston residents is part of the same isolationist NIMBY mentality that appears on just about every public issue in Evanston.

      The fact is, Evanston is not its own little island with its own economic rules. We are connected to the world economy, and even more closely connected to the economy of the Chicago region.

      We should insist on hiring people who will do the job right, at the best price. It doesn’t matter to me whether they live in Evanston or Skokie or Waukegan.

      The same is true for ‘local’ merchants. If Williams shoes has the shoes I like in my size at a good price, I will buy them – but if Macy’s has nicer shoes at a nicer price, then I will shop there.

      If the IHOP in Skokie is cleaner and brighter than the IHOP in Evanston, and the pancakes are still as fluffy and delicious, then I will go to Skokie. I will even drive up to the IHOP on Willow Road.

      Shall we prohibit people from Chicago from spending money in the Evanston Target or Home Depot?

      Will we prohibit people from Skokie or Wilmette from visiting their therapists in the 708 Church building, or seeing movies in the Century?

      If ‘out of town developers’ wants to build a beautiful tower where the rundown 708 Church building now stands, are we going to chase them out of town?

      Shall we antagonize NU and its students by trying to impose illegal taxes on them because, as one potential 9th ward candidate says, they are ‘transient’ residents who aren’t from Evanston? Or do we want smart young people to stay in Evanston to work or develop new businesses, like they do in Austin or Cambridge?

      Perhaps Evanston Hospital (what is its stupid new name?) or St. Francis should only hire doctors and nurses who graduated from ETHS. This would certainly provide jobs to Evanston residents.

      Maybe some of the hardcore NIMBYs would like to do all of these things and keep the outsiders out. They like to remember the good old days, when Chuckie Dawes was still around, and pretend that Evanston and America can be isolated from the rest of the world.

      We need to tear down barriers to commerce, not build new ones.

      So I am not concerned about how much more this requirement may add to a project – that is not the point. It is a stupid policy because it promotes the intolerant NIMBY mindset.

      1. Who – glad we agree on something
        Who – you stated “While you are right that a requirement to hire Evanston residents is a bad idea and adds to costs,” I can agree with you here,
        but to equate it with NIMBYISM – I think is not the issue.

        Who – I think the people who are pushing this have a different idea than NIMBYISM – they think they can create a program to help a small group of people in Evanston get jobs who may or may not be qualified.

        To me the big picture issue here we got an ecomomic going down the tubes and the council members are giving money to afford housing groups for administrative costs and creating an ordinance that adds cost – they can not even figure out the little picture here.

        Who-are you concerned about taxes or not? I never seem to get you to answer that question, given the economy no one is going be putting up any development here any time soon.

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