Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Wicks Law, Other Mandates Would Be Eased Under Spitzer Plan

North Country Gazette

Found this while doing the ususal google thing.....good read.........andy

ALBANY—Unnecessary mandates on local governments would be eliminated under a legislative proposal advanced by Gov. Eliot Spitzer. This legislation will make amendments to the Wicks Law, ease local government procurement procedures, provide equal treatment for localities with respect to collateral source payments, reform the laws governing interest rates, and streamline the enforcement of local housing code violations.
“This legislation enacts necessary measures to reduce the heavy financial burden, ease the cumbersome workload, and roll back the excessive mandates that for too long have handcuffed New York State’s local governments,” said Governor Spitzer. “By encouraging structural reforms and reducing operational costs, this bill will promote fiscal savings for our taxpayers, increase flexibility for our municipalities, and ensure the long-term economic stability of our state.”

The mandate relief package will include the following provisions:
The Wicks Law is an antiquated statute that requires multiple contracts for all municipal construction projects costing over $50,000 - a monetary threshold that has not been increased since the early 1960s. This legislation will:
–Increase the threshold to $1,000,000 for Upstate projects and $2,000,000 for projects in New York City, and annually index these new thresholds to adjust for inflation;
–Strengthen subcontractor protections to ensure that subcontractors are treated fairly in non-Wicks projects; and
–Authorize the use of project labor agreements, which standardize the terms and conditions for labor on public works contracts, in lieu of Wicks separate specifications in certain circumstances.
This legislation will facilitate local government procurement processes by:
–Increasing the competitive bidding thresholds for public works contracts from $20,000 to $50,000 and for commodities purchases from $10,000 to $20,000;
–Allowing local governments to consider “best value” when awarding contracts for services, and;
–Allowing local governments to “piggy-back” on federal information technology procurement contracts.
The State’s collateral source laws provide for the deduction of certain third-party payments from jury awards in personal injury and wrongful death actions, to ensure that injured plaintiffs do not get paid twice for the same injury. While most past and future collateral source payments are deducted from jury awards, future payments are not offset in actions against public employers. As a result, local governments end up making future payments to plaintiffs who are already scheduled to receive such payments from other sources. This legislation eliminates that inequity.
Local governments currently must pay interest on outstanding judgments at a fixed rate of 9% — which is significantly higher than current market interest rates. This unnecessarily increases the interest costs of local governments, and provides a windfall to third parties. This legislation will reduce those expenses by setting a market-based method of calculating interest rates - similar to the method used for judgments involving the federal government - and by capping interest rates at the current statutory rate of 9%.
Local governments can currently enforce local housing maintenance codes only through court action, a cumbersome and costly process that has led to significant violation backlogs in some municipalities. This legislation gives local governments the option to use administrative proceedings to streamline the enforcement of local housing code violations. 4-30-07

This article was lifted without permission from The North Country Gazette. NCG asked the blogger to remove this article from his blog but to date, he has refused to do so. Taking entire articles from the media and reprinting on one's site is not Fair Use, it's theft.
The Wick's Law reforms don't even come close to going far enough. Wicks needs to be repealed. There's no logical rationale for it. Today most large construction projects are most cost effective and efficiently priced and undertaken under a "design-build" model. Wicks precludes that -- and the proposed threshold raising is nothing more than cosmetic.
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