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.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. I’m not opposed to

    I’m not opposed to encouraging local hiring, but the Evanston City Council seem really inconsistent. They’ve turned away proposals for projects that would have created a number of good-paying local jobs and increased property taxes for our schools on one hand…and then turn around and act like it’s all about jobs. If they were really concerned about jobs, they wouldn’t have their collective heads in the sand when it came to local development.

    1. City Workers, City Residents

      Perhaps the Council and Manager who are responsible for staffing, should PERSONALLY be fined if they [or any department] do not hire ONLY Evanston residents. If not at least follow policy Chicago if they pass their tax on non-Chicago people working in Chicago. I.e. a tax on any non-Evanston resident working in Evanston. This should improve Evanston's employment rate and reduce poverty of Evanston residents.

  2. Hypocrite, thy name is Evanston government

    Perhaps then the city should fine itself since only 30 percent of its workforce live in Evanston. About 90 percent of the Evanston Fire Department personnel live outside of Evanston as do most Evanston cops.

    What a bunch of hypocrites!

    Vote the rascals out next election!

  3. Firemen and police should live in Evanston

    100% of firemen and police should live in Evanston, if they work for Evanston.

    And for everything else, fines to/deductions from the budget should be whatever the job would pay, so long as violations occur, for anybody else.

    1. Residence of city employees

      Sure, police and firefighters should live in Evanston if they find it convenient and affordable to do so. But I don't see the benefit to Evanstonians of prohibiting the city from hiring people who live elsewhere. Chicago's residency requirement might be justified, since that city has a lot of vacant land and weak demand for housing in many neighborhoods, and counts on municipal workers as a voting bloc to support their regime.

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