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Article posted: 2/12/2013 4:43 PM

Elgin council to discuss local workers requirement

By Elena Ferrarin

In an effort to increase employment opportunities for residents, the Elgin City Council's committee of the whole Wednesday plans to discuss new requirements for construction contractors.

The proposal, drafted by staff members at the request of councilman Robert Gilliam, would require contractors to employ Elginites for at least 10 percent of work hours conducted for city contracts of $100,000 or more, city officials said.

Gilliam and councilwoman Tish Powell met with local labor officials to explore ideas to give work options to residents, Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal said.

The proposed ordinance is based on a similar Chicago ordinance, Kozal said.

Kozal said he didn't know of other suburbs with similar ordinances.

Under the new rules, the city's purchasing director would monitor and then report to the city manager and city council when contracts are closed.

The work requirement, however, could be reduced or waived if the contractor can demonstrate "the impracticality or excessive costs of complying" for particular contracts or classes of employees.

If a contractor fails to meet the requirements, the city can get damages based on egregiousness of the violation.

Contractors could also earn credits -- applicable to future construction projects done within 12 months -- based on how many work hours are performed by Elgin apprentices, city officials said.

The city already gives preference to local vendors, as long as their lowest bid does not exceed the lowest bid from a nonlocal business by more than 2 percent for contracts of $25,000 or less, or by more than 1 percent for contracts more than $25,000.

The city of Des Plaines is among municipalities which don't have specific ordinances in place but request developers to hire locally as much as possible, as was the case with the construction of the Rivers Casino.

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