Ironton#8217;s PLA hurt local workers, means more cost

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2008

Ironton Schools are 25 percent over budget. This is no revelation.

It is the expected consequences that I, and others, warned of when the school district chose to enter a Project Labor Agreement last year.

The elementary school is less than half complete and the high school is not out of the ground yet.

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Less than one fourth of the project is done and we are $4 million over budget.

Does this mean we can expect to be $16 million over budget upon completion?

I see no credibility in blaming a three-year-old budget.

I have been involved in construction in the Ironton area for 35 years. Material and labor have escalated every one of those years.

Why would any construction professional believe that a two-year-old budget should not be adjusted for current costs?

The PLA entered into by the Ironton School Board could have specified apprenticeship programs, OSHA compliance, and drug testing without stipulating the use of only union employees.

An agreement of this type would have opened the bidding to many more local companies because the majority of construction companies are open shop.

Local construction personnel took a beating with this PLA.

Look at the cars parked in the construction parking lot.

The day I looked, I saw two cars with Lawrence County licenses, and most of the others were Kentucky, West Virginia and Scioto County.

Not exactly what I would call using local labor.

An interesting statistic might be the number of personnel that pay Ironton property tax and also receive a paycheck for working on the projects.

My guess is that there are not many.

On the other hand, I do know very well qualified construction personnel who will cash their unemployment checks to pay their Ironton property tax next month.

The same tax that pays the man who took their job.

Superintendent Nance states when questioned about the $4 million, “This additional money will not cost the citizens of Ironton any additional taxes.”

This may technically be correct, but the $4 million burden is paid by every one of us who are liable for sales or income tax in the State of Ohio.

The lack of qualified bidders in southeast Ohio that Mr. Savor speaks of is no mystery.

It has to do with population density.

Southeastern Ohio is just not as densely populated as Cincinnati and Cleveland.

There are far fewer employers of every kind here.

All the more reason to allow the fewer construction companies a chance to compete.

Ironton broke new ground when it entered into this agreement.

No other school district in the State of Ohio had ever entered into such a contract.

We were the first, and I think that we are sadly about to come to the realization why no others have done this before.

Bill Nenni