Client Alerts

Cincinnati Changes Bidding Requirements Concerning Sewer District, Storm Water, and Water Works Construction Projects

By: John M. Hands and Jesse R. Lipcius

About: Construction, Construction Litigation

May 2013 – Effective July 29, 2013, to bid a sewer district, storm water, or water works construction project to the City of Cincinnati (collectively, “City Work”), a bidder must employ apprentices from programs that have graduated apprentices for the past five consecutive years (the “Apprenticeship Requirement”). By a margin of 7 – 2, Cincinnati City Council passed the ordinance containing the Apprenticeship Requirement, which will be located in a new Chapter 316 of the Cincinnati Municipal Code, on May 1, 2013. Previously, the Apprenticeship Requirement applied only to bidders generating annual revenue of at least $350,000.00. The new Apprenticeship Requirement will apply to any bidder for a City Work contract with a value of $400,000.00 or more.

Supporters of the Apprenticeship Requirement note that job-market entrants have avoided the slower-than-usual construction industry for the past several years, and contend that the change will spur job growth and mentoring within the local construction industry. Therefore, backers of the ordinance believe that the Apprenticeship Requirement will encourage the construction industry to groom new leaders.

Critics of this change believe that “non-union shops” will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to bid City Work going forward, as it is typically only “union shops” that employ such apprenticeship programs. The City Work available for bid is substantial as Cincinnati undergoes a $3.2 billion federally mandated overhaul of its sewers. According to such detractors, many local contractors will be unable to bid substantial City Work in their own backyard. Critics also believe the Apprenticeship Requirement will ultimately prove costly to the City due to, among other consequences, increased monitoring tasks associated with enforcing the change.

For more information on the Apprenticeship Requirement, please contact John Hands, Jesse Lipcius, or another member of the Ulmer & Berne Construction Team.