Evanston aldermen tonight will consider a sharp increase in penalties for contractors who fail to meet local hiring goals on city-funded construction projects.
A city advisory committee is recommending that the penalty be increased from $100 a day to 3 percent of the amount of the entire contract.
But City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says that change would represent a 10-fold increase in penalties.
He says that big an increase could make it difficult to attract competitive bids and result in higher costs for the city’s $40 million capital improvement program.
He noted that the the city received just two bids for a recent sidewalk paving project. One contractor requested a waiver of the local hiring rule — and its bid was 46 percent lower than the bid from the other firm that didn’t ask to having the local hiring rule waived.
Bobkiewicz instead is asking that the aldermen increase the penalty to 1 percent of the contract value and give staff time to do further research on whether the program is effective and how similar programs opperate in other communities.
Local hiring preferences are barred on federally funding highway construction projects, but courts have generally held that when local governments are spending their own money they can impose such restrictions, although they have frequently been challenged by contractor groups.