EPA’s ruling on Davis-Bacon Act requirements for stimulus dough rankles Colorado communities

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Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wage requirements are discussed in this report from Charles Ashby writing for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

After Congress and President Barack Obama passed and signed an appropriations bill in October for federal stimulus money aimed at helping local communities put people back to work, the EPA determined projects would have to comply with the federal Davis-Bacon Act of 1931. That requires governments using federal money to pay prevailing wages for construction workers, which are generally higher than regular wages. To make matters worse for the communities, the EPA ruled the federal stimulus money being used not only applied to future projects, but also ones that were under way before the law was signed.

As a result, communities such as Fruita and Glenwood Springs will have to come up with additional money to pay the higher wages. “We’ve been having to do a lot of scrambling,” [Fruita Mayor Ken Henry] said. “This is the first time in 21 years that this act has applied. This impacts communities directly, and as far as we’re concerned, this is nothing more than a $1.3 million tax on Fruita.”

The EPA ruling forced the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority last month to delay issuing millions of dollars worth of bonds to pay for 23 projects in the state, including 10 on the Western Slope, Executive Director Mike Brod said. Brod said the authority is trying to work with each local community to figure out a solution for their specific projects. “A lot of them are saying they didn’t sign up for this,” Brod said. “We had gone through the process of getting them approved and working on the financing itself to get the loan agreement closed, and that’s where things got hung up. It took about a month for us to receive final guidance from the EPA … and this is the way it came out.”

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