By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Northborough – The issues of procurement and prevailing wage continue to vex Northborough's town officials. At the Board of Selectmen's March 26 meeting, the board, along with Town Administrator John Coderre took the opportunity to discuss the matter with several legislators who attended the meeting.
Under state law, all municipal projects, no matter the size and anticipated costs, are subject to these mandates. The regulations, which are meant to provide laborers with fair wages when working on municipal projects, often can drive up the cost of a project significantly. But many times, Coderre said, a business does not want to have to pay its employees a much higher wage for a municipal project when the pay for a similar type private project, that does not have to pay a prevailing wage, would be much lower. State regulations also require that extensive amounts of paperwork be completed by vendor and town officials, Coderre said.
Currently all municipal jobs requiring building-related repairs or projects over $1 are subject to these mandates. Northborough officials support a measure that would exempt projects that were $100,000 or less from these constraints, Coderre said.
The legislators present – state Sen. Harriette Chandler, D- Worcester, state Sen. James Eldridge, D-Acton, state Rep. Steven Levy, R-Marlborough and Susan Templeton, chief of staff for state Rep. Harold Naughton, Jr., D-Clinton – noted the Northborough officials frustrations but did not offer any real hope that the situation would change. (Levy is not yet representing Northborough but will if he is re-elected in November due to the state legislative redistricting. Templeton appeared on behalf of Naughton who is currently serving in the United States Army Reserve in Afghanistan.)
Eldridge told the board said that he “did not have a position” on the matter.
Selectmen Chair Jeff Amberson replied, “I's surprised that you don's have an opinion on this. We'se been talking about this for three years now.”
Selectman William Pantazis agreed.
“Every time we do a project [procurement] hurts us. The loss of savings and the paperwork hurt us. We have to go out of town sometimes to find contractors,” he said.
Eldridge said he would attempt to meet with Coderre to discuss the issue and form an opinion “by the end of April.”