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Council committee OKs bidder ordinance

Superior could soon follow Douglas County in defining "responsible" when it comes to contracting with bidders on public works projects.

Mayor Jim Paine introduce a revised ordinance similar to one he introduced as vice chairman of the County Board that was adopted in March.

The Council, meeting in committee Tuesday, approved the concept of repealing the existing public works projects ordinance and replacing it with an ordinance that establishes criteria for a responsible bidder.

"It is designed to accomplish a few things," Paine said. "If you have recently had to read our section in the Code of Ordinances regarding public works, you'll find a lot that is out of date and much of it has been made illegal by state law."

He said rather than just repealing the ordinance outright, he thought it was important to add some of the protections the city values for the sake of the city and taxpayers.

While state law requires the city to let contracts to the lowest responsible bidder, Paine said that law doesn't define "responsible," which is up to the city to define.

The ordinance requires contractors to maintain a permanent place of business, provide worker training and meet the requirements of Davis-Bacon related acts, maintain insurances, and be in good standing and qualified to work in Wisconsin.

Paine said the goal of the changes is to ensure the city and taxpayers get the best quality work for the lowest cost.

"It levels the playing field for contractors that want to bid on public projects," Paine said. "If we had no definition whatsoever for responsible, it means anyone could bid regardless of the quality of the work ... This creates some minimum standards."

Paine said updating the ordinance allows the city to maintain the positive relationships it has with its contractors and complies with state law.

About a half-dozen people involved in the labor trades, from business owners and managers to contract workers spoke in favor of the ordinance.

The council committee approved the new ordinance in concept; the committee of the whole did not have the power to act on the ordinance.

The ordinance change will go to the Council for final consideration June 6.