Politics As Usual
- is it -
? Cooperation or Exploitation?

Abuse Of Power

Rigging the System

Wicks Law:

The Wicks Law, which was established in 1912, demands that municipalities—including school districts—collect bids from separate contractors on different parts of any building or renovation projects that cost more than $500,000. The three different parts are:

- Plumbing and gas fitting;
- Steam heating, hot water heating, ventilating and air conditioning; and
- Electric wiring and standard light fixtures.

This means that the district could end up contracting with three separate companies to do the work. Studies have estimated that municipalities pay 8 to 30 percent more for projects under the Wicks Law. In addition, coordinating the work of separate specialty contractors can be a nightmare that often results in project delays and even lawsuits that add more costs to school districts’ total bills.

Under the Wicks Law, school districts are responsible for the overall construction process, including overseeing and coordinating the work of each of their specialty contractors. However, few school districts have construction specialists on staff, so they’re left with the option of hiring someone (in addition to the specialty contractors) to oversee the construction process or giving that responsibility to someone who has little or no expertise in that area. In the private sector—as well as in other states—school districts can hire general contractors to coordinate their projects and see that they are completed on time and within budget.

Problems with coordinating the work of up to three separate contractors can also lead to delays, which are bad enough. But delays can also lead to lawsuits against the school district. If a subcontractor loses income because of a delay in a school district’s building project, the courts will often hold the school district liable—even if the delay was the fault of another contractor.



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