While House Bill 1329, which would raise the threshold of project cost at which prevailing wage must be paid, is dead for the moment, the issue could come back during the next session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
Because of that, the City of Warren approved a piece of correspondence at Monday night's meeting to be sent in support of the measure.
Indicating that State Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-65) wished to be made aware of whether the municipalities in her district support the bill, Assistant City Manager Mary Ann Nau explained that prevailing wage law was last amended in 1963. The $25,000 limit "would have been appropriate then," she said; but noted that the threshold is "quite low now."
"Significant savings would be seen by municipalities," Nau added, explaining that small contractors who couldn't typically afford to pay prevailing wages might be able to bid on projects that would not have been financially feasible under the current system.
Nau said that one project currently underway, renovations at Beaty Park, would specifically benefit from the change. The renovations, with a total project cost of just over $150,000, will bring new basketball hoops and backboards, new top coat and blacktop on the basketball court and tennis courts, a concrete pad for bleachers, 130 feet of limestone pathway as well as upgrades to fencing and lighting at the park. Increasing the prevailing wage limit "would make our funds go a lot further," Nau said.
Under current prevailing wage requirements in Pennsylvania, any public work project costing more than $25,000 being undertaken by a public body in the state must pay prevailing wage rates for the area in which it is being completed.
Under the new legislation, which was tabled by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Monday, the minimum cost of a project which required payment of prevailing wages would be raised to $185,000.
Prevailing wage is determined by Department of Labor and Industry based on wage averages for a given profession in the county where a project is to take place.