By Taylor Stronsky
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
The Baltimore County Council Monday approved legislation that sets a standard pay rate for county contract workers and requires contractors to hire locally when they win county-funded projects.
The bill, introduced by County Executive Johnny Olszewski, was approved on a 6-1 vote. Officials explained that the purpose of the bill is to require all contractors and subcontractors to pay construction employees no less than the prevailing wage on capital improvements. The prevailing wage is the typical hourly pay for local workers, an amount that often parallels union labor.
The basic hourly rate and fringe benefit rates will be established annually by the state commissioner of Labor and Industry, officials said. Capital improvement projects include roads, bridges, streets, buildings or water, sewer, or storm water facilities.
Deputy County Administrator Andrew Vetter told the council that the bill will help ensure jobs for Baltimore County workers. He pointed to the requirement that at least 51% of the new jobs required to complete capital improvement contracts or capital projects must be filled by Baltimore County residents.
Councilman Izzy Patoka commended the administration and Vetter for bringing this issue forward.
“This is supported by studies that have been done by the Environmental Policy Institute that prevailing wage has benefit to the overall economy, both direct and indirect,” said Patoka.
With this bill, contractors and subcontractors will be required to submit a complete certified copy of its payroll records for construction work performed on a capital improvement contract within 14 days after the end of each payroll period, officials said.
Councilman Julian Jones also commended the administration. To have taxpayers’ dollars and the projects that they fund ensures that people who provide an honest day’s work, will get an honest day’s wage for that work, he said.
Council Chair Cathy Bevins explained how prevailing wages can be the best thing for communities.
This bill will apply to capital improvements or capital projects on or after July 1, 2021.