SOMERS, N.Y. – State Sen. Greg Ball got an earful from the Somers Town Board Thursday about how the state's prevailing wage law is wreaking havoc on the municipality's budget.
“It practically doubles the cost of any capital project in town," Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy told Ball. "Tonight we’re voting on new roofs for three buildings, costing $318,000. No private person would pay that. But we have to pay the prevailing wages that the unions set, including all the benefits and everything else. It’s a huge issue. I’d encourage you to put it on the top of your mandate relief package.”
The law requires all public works contractors and subcontractors to pay the county's minimum prevailing wage, plus benefits. It applies to every job, from watchman to delivery person, but does not include clerical, sales, professional and technical jobs.
“We have a lot of older buildings that need to be fixed," Councilman Thomas Garrity said. "We’ve put budgets together. But with the new prevailing wage law, it’s now 20, even 40 percent more expensive. It’s really stifling us here, as we’re trying to repair buildings.
“For example," he continued, "it’s a shame that we put a budget together to build a concession stand and all of a sudden you throw in the prevailing wage law and it’s $30,000 more. It makes no sense.”
Councilman Rick Morrissey added, “We don’t want to increase taxes and it’s really frustrating. We’re trying to keep our infrastructure intact.”
Ball, who had come to the Town Board meeting to discuss his progress since taking office, said, “When it comes to infrastructure, use us as a partner. Times are tough. No doubt we need more unfunded mandate relief.”
In his presentation to the board, Ball cited the MTA tax repeal, pension reform, hydrofraking, animal rights and unfunded mandate relief.
He also mentioned three grants he brought specifically to Somers: $10,000 for Kennedy Catholic High School, $50,000 for the Somers Library and $100,000 for a baseball field.