Engineer Didn’t Prove That PLAs Save Money

From: Watertown Daily Times

Earlier this month, the Ogdensburg City Council voted unanimously to support a project labor agreement for the new wastewater treatment plant. Members point to a potential savings of $900,000 as justification. The key word everyone should understand is potential.

The PLA study, which cost Ogdensburg taxpayers $21,000, purports that with a series of false savings, labor consolidation and “management rights,” the project will save money. Yet no one challenged the study’s creator, Tim Seeler of Seeler Engineering, to positively prove those savings will be achieved. They also never asked him about the negative impact the lack of competition will have on the bidding process. They simply rubber-stamped the study and closed the door on local contractors and their employees.

Our association fights for the rights of merit shop, non-union, contractors and their employees. We also fight for the taxpayers who get fleeced every time a PLA is put in play. Our opponents, those who endorse PLAs, say we’re wrong and our studies are flawed. If that’s the case, then let’s put the cards on the table.

The city of Ogdensburg should immediately allow any and all contractors to bid the project with or without the PLA. That will allow everyone, especially the taxpayers, to see if the PLA really does save money. Of course, the city won’t allow that to happen. That doesn’t work for them politically.

Perhaps instead they’d take some of that $900,000 and do a post-PLA study by someone other than Seeler Engineering. Let an outside firm investigate the labor cost calculations to see if, indeed, the alleged savings were realized. After all, isn’t the role of an elected body to be good stewards of the taxpayers money? Let’s see whom the City Council really cares about the most: their constituents or the influential politician who forced them to adopt the PLA.

Brian Sampson

ABC Chapter President

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