Jerry Yates has become a familiar face at Grayson City Council meetings as he advocates for a responsible bidder ordinance. He has been attending meetings for nearly a year now to discuss the ordinance, which he first raised with council in a meeting last September.
Yates spoke with council again during their regular session last Tuesday to present them with another updated version of the ordinance for their consideration, along with a checklist that council requested during their last meeting. That checklist, he explained, was an example of what council could provide to contractors during the bid process, to help them make their decision.
“The way I look at this, this is not a union or non-union issue,” Yates said to council. “It's a taxpayer issue.”
His proposed ordinance would recommend the hiring of local contractors and workers over out-of-area contractors for projects paid for with city tax dollars. It would prioritize Grayson based contractors, followed by contractors in other parts of Carter County and then neighboring counties, that employee people from Grayson and other local communities.
It would also set recommendations for choosing contractors that meet certain OSHA training specifications and have documented experience in the field they are bidding on. It would also require any contractors working on city projects to pay into worker's compensation and to withhold payroll taxes, rather than pay workers “under the table.”
“Occupational tax... fuels everything we have here,” Yates said, adding that if employees were working for cash, especially on projects funded by city tax dollars, it was “not right.”
“I don't want to hear, as a citizen of Grayson, of someone working for cash on a city project,” Yates said. “It's not right.”
“I think the worst thing we can do, as a city, is not to have action,” he continued.
Councilman Duane Suttles asked what specific part of the ordinance would allow the city to determine if the contractor was violating that restriction. Yates explained that the disclosure of number of employees would allow the city to determine that.
If they have listed ten employees on their checklist, he said, and there were 12 on the site, the city could check to see if two employees were working under the table or having payroll taxes held out as required by law.
Suttles then asked if this would require the city to hire a full time, paid position to determine this.
Yates said that it was not necessary, but it was an option the city could consider, if they wanted to create a position. Yates said that an individual, such as a worker on the project, could report the violation and the city would then have the ability to investigate and enforce the regulations.
Mayor George Steele reiterated that he was, “not opposed (to an ordinance).”
“But I think this one is a bit cumbersome for us,” Steele said.
He said that the Kentucky League of Cities also had concerns about municipalities passing such ordinances, as they could open the city up to challengers. He also noted that, although they are paid for with city dollars, the utility department was fully autonomous when it came to spending, and city council could not make decisions about funding for their projects. Any ordinance the city eventually adopted would have to take that into consideration, Steele said.
Council took no action on the proposed ordinance, but Steele suggested they form a committee to consider the best way to rewrite the proposed ordinance for the city.
Councilperson Jennifer McGlone, who has supported the idea of the proposed ordinance in the past, thanked Yates for all his effort and work on it.
“You've raised some important issues,” McGlone said. “Things that weren't in the forefront of my mind.”
In other action the council discussed possible street closures on Park Street for Funtoberfest, heard from FIVCO representative Luke Stapleton on regional transportation issues, including Kelly Ward's work on the Rupert Lane flood control project and the work by Roger and Joanne Dunfee to use grant funds to build a sidewalk from Carol Malone Blvd to the area of the Racer's Mart and then on to the park.
Dunfee also addressed the council about heavy rains and flooding last Saturday. She noted that though the water was high, even entering some residences, it was not significant enough to qualify the city or county for any aid from FEMA.
Council also moved to approve the standard operating procedures for the police department's use of electronic control weapons, such as tasers. They also approved a motion to authorize the department to order four new police cars, entered into the first reading of a new ordinance requesting the establishment of a committee on aging and special needs citizens, and authorized the mayor to hire someone to take up carpet, repair the floors and place tile in the conference room as long as costs remain under $20,000. If the quoted costs for mold abatement, repair, and tiling exceeds that amount, council advised Steele to put the project out for bids.
In other action, council moved to accept an agreement with Westek Development on the design stage of the Rupert Lane drainage project, at a cost of $19,900. They also moved to allot $2,000 to a trap, neuter and release program for feral cats.