by German Lopez
Kasich tax plan criticized, JobsOhio records due today, workers demand prevailing wage
The Ohio House is looking to rewrite
parts of Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal after dissent has focused
on the governor’s tax plan. The chamber’s leaders are looking to set
aside the tax plan from the bill so they can better focus on other
complicated parts of the budget, including the Medicaid expansion and
school funding. Even without the governor’s controversial sales tax
expansion plan, Kasich’s budget proposal contains enough leftover money
to pass some income tax cuts, with about $280.4 million in general
revenue available for fiscal year 2014 and $690.2 million available in
fiscal year 2015, according to an analysis in the Bluebook. CityBeat covered Kasich’s budget proposal in further detail here.
State Auditor Dave Yost says he expects to get the subpoenaed financial records from JobsOhio
today by the noon deadline, even though the audit has come under
criticism from Gov. Kasich and other state officials. Yost says he
should be allowed to look into JobsOhio’s full financial records, which
include private funds, but Kasich and other Republicans argue only
public funds are open to audit. JobsOhio is a publicly funded nonprofit,
privatized development agency that was set up by Kasich and Republican legislators to eventually replace the Ohio Department of Development,
which is susceptible to a full audit.
Workers for the $78 million U Square project near the University of Cincinnati allege they are being underpaid.
In a lawsuit, union workers are claiming they should be paid prevailing
wage established in state law because the project is using public funds
and 50 percent owned by a public authority.
With the support of City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr., Cincinnati is now looking to cash into its innovative water technology
with the formation of the Global Water Technology Hub, which will use
expert advice to identify market needs and sell the technology. The city
promises the hub will also help keep water rates low for users and find
new revenue sources.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld will hold a press conference
today to introduce his Restoring Our Communities Initiative, which will
seek to fight blight and improve child safety in Cincinnati. The
initiative will include a push for the passage of Ohio Senate Bill 16, which
would make it so individuals are not liable for trespassing convictions
if the person is remediating blight on abandoned personal property. In a
statement, Sittenfeld explained the purpose of the initiative: “Blight
is a complicated issue that impacts many aspects of life, and I think
this plan helps attack the problem from several angles.”
Cincinnati Council’s Budget and Finance Committee unanimously approved $10,000
for the Westwood Square project, which will involve a larger facility
for the Madcap Theater, green space and changes to the neighborhood’s
entryways to better encourage community pride and economic development.
A new $20 million, seven-story apartment tower with 110 high-end apartments is being planned for Downtown, above the Seventh and Broadway Garage.
Two weeks in, Horseshoe Casino’s executive says the casino is doing well and turnout has been good.
A report found auto insurance rates in Ohio are “a bargain,” with the state having the fourth lowest costs among other states and Washington, D.C.
A machine keeps human livers alive outside a body for 24 hours, which could double the amount of livers available for transplant and save thousands of lives.
by Andy Brownfield
Committee members want to change way contracts are written to ensure fair wages
A City Council committee wants Cincinnati’s leadership to
investigate whether workers in a Clifton Heights development project are being paid
what they’re supposed to.
The Strategic Growth Committee on Wednesday passed a motion
asking the city administration to report back on wage payments to workers on
the U Square development. The project includes a parking garage as well as
residential and commercial units.
Under Ohio law, workers on projects funded by cities must be paid
a prevailing wage, which is equivalent to the wage earned by a union worker on
a similar project.
The city only has money invested in the garage, and the state of Ohio recently ruled that
workers on other parts don’t have to be paid prevailing wage.
Council members Wendell Young, Cecil Thomas and Laure Quinlivan
produced a video in which they interviewed carpenters who said they were being
paid less than the prevailing wage.
At issue is a letter from developer Towne Properties that says
the company will pay all workers prevailing wage anyway. Arn Bortz with Towne
Properties said his company cuts a check to subcontractors respecting that
agreement, so if workers aren’t being paid the proper amount it’s their fault.
City Solicitor John Curp told members of the Strategic Growth
Committee that under city and state law, the subcontractors are not required to
pay workers a prevailing wage on parts of the project that are not getting
public funding. He said the letter from the developer does not hold the weight
as a legal contract.
Young, Thomas, Quinlivan and Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld all
expressed the need to overhaul the way the city enters into development
contracts to better protect workers.
However, City Manager Milton Dohoney hinted that overzealous
requirements for high wages could chase off some development projects.
He said that a project like U Square is tied to the Clifton
location because of its proximity to the University of Cincinnati, but the city
can’t be too restrictive when it comes to businesses that could expand
Dohoney said the city also doesn’t currently have the manpower to
do the kind of aggressive enforcement that the council members were asking for.
Councilman Young countered that he would like to see the city be
as aggressive with enforcement as they are with making economic development
“We want to change the rules of the game to make sure everyone is
treated equal,” Young said.