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M.O.R.E. Ordinance Approved by Committee

M.O.R.E. Ordinance Approved by Committee

The Milwaukee Opportunities for Restoring Employment ordinance was the primary reason behind this special meeting of the Community & Economic Development Committee.  The ordinance intends to increase the required percentage of City of Milwaukee residents hired to work on city projects and development projects receiving more than $1 million in TIF assistance.  Additionally it mandated a prevailing wage to be paid for these projects and set a higher Emerging Business Enterprise (EBE ) utilization level as well.  The proposed ordinance brought out a large group of both supporters and opponents.  Alderman Ashanti Hamilton attempted to frame the discussion early on saying that “there are many people who may come to the table and say this is the wrong time to do something like this” and indicated that he felt the time was right to move on this ordinance.  He added that “I submit to you that the price has already been too great”.  Alderman Nik Kovac explained that “in the end this is not a philosophical question, it is a practical question” and lent his support saying that “I think we have a document that comes close to being a win win win”.  An extensive list of developers and real estate professional spoke in opposition to the ordinance though primarily the development community opposed the ordinance because of the prevailing wage mandate. Richard Wanta, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Underground Contractors Association, spoke in opposition of the project saying that “the same city has chased us out of town for decades”.  He went on to point out that there is currently only one major water and sewer contractor in the city, so once this passes that contractor is especially likely to get all of the available work in the area because of the new regulations. Dick Lincoln, Senior Vice President of the Mandel Group, started his remarks saying that “the camel is a horse that is designed by committee” indicating the ordinance wasn’t quite right but went on to say that “we’re almost there”.  He explained that generally he felt the ordinance was a positive but that the prevailing wage requirement was problematic.  He argued that it works against minority hiring, as smaller companies often compete on price, and that this would add substantially to the cost of the project. Barry Mandel, President of the Mandel Group, pointed to the PERC requirements in the Park East and tied them to the fact that development has been non-existent in the county owned portion of the Park East.  He then pointed to The Brewery and The North End projects as two projects that have been moving forward because they utilizing non-prevailing wages. Greg Uhen, President of Eppstein Uhen Architects, spoke out against the proposed ordinance saying that “my concern is that it will reduce the number of opportunities that come to the city” and that he felt “this is another roadblock, another reason for them not to come”. The line of members in support of the ordinance were at least as lengthy […]