Gould clarifies comments on City of Glenwood bidding problems
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Immigration legislation might be part of the reason Glenwood Springs isn’t raking in the bids for city construction projects.House Bill 1343, passed in August 2006, toughened immigration requirements for contractors who bid on contracts with any state agency or political subdivision. That includes most entities that spend tax dollars. The bill requires contractors who bid for those types of public contracts to utilize a “Basic Pilot Program” immigration check on its employees through the Department of Homeland Security.Glenwood Springs hasn’t been requiring its construction contractors to undergo that Basic Pilot Program.The bill doesn’t apply to the city because it is home ruled, said Mark Gould, who owns Gould Construction. His company, and perhaps other larger companies, aren’t bidding on City of Glenwood Springs projects because companies that don’t comply with HB1343 are eligible to bid on those projects.”House Bill 1343 doesn’t apply to Glenwood Springs because they are home rule, so they can opt out of the law,” he said. “They are not requiring their contractors to hire with homeland security whereas other taxing agencies are. What it creates is an unlevel playing field.”City attorney Jan Shute said the issue relies on the interpretation of a phrase in the law. Most municipalities that participate in the Colorado Municipal League have determined that the bill does not require construction contracts to go through the Basic Pilot Program check, she added.”I’m not sure that being home ruled really makes a difference,” she said.Gould said at Thursday’s city council meeting that he wanted to clarify why his company and possibly others aren’t bidding on Glenwood Springs public contracts.”I’m not attacking the city. I’m not criticizing the city,” he said Friday. “I went to the meeting for the purpose of clearing up why some local contractors aren’t bidding their work. I asked them last year after the bill was passed if they were going to comply with House Bill 1343 and they said they weren’t. … Now the rhetoric on the street is that we’re not being good corporate citizens.”City manager Jeff Hecksel said the issue doesn’t pertain only to Glenwood Springs, but impacts the entire Western Slope.”I would venture to say that while in part Mr. Gould is correct in terms of his assertion as to why we are unable to get a large number of bidders, it’s also that there’s a large amount of work out there and not enough contractors.”Bobby Holmes, who does business development for Aspen Earthmoving, said all the company’s employees are run through the Basic Pilot Program. He said their company hasn’t bid on Glenwood projects recently because crews were already busy with other projects at the time.Some area entities he knows require the Basic Pilot Program check include Rifle, New Castle, the Aspen Parks Department, the Garfield County Re-2 School District and Snowmass Water and Sanitation.Council member Chris McGovern said at the meeting she thought the matter should be considered and looked into. It will likely come up in a future meeting.Glenwood Springs had difficulty obtaining bids for eight sewer and water projects estimated to cost about $2.5 million. The bid opened in May and didn’t receive any offers, but it was reopened June 28 and the city eventually got two bids. Before that, the city put three of those projects up for bid separately in November and got little response. A project to build a play center for kids behind the community center also has had trouble obtaining bids recently for excavation and foundation work.Competition from oil and gas companies is also thought to be thinning the labor pool, and working with government entities can be less profitable and more complex than private organizations.Since Aug. 7, every employee Gould has hired has been approved through the Basic Pilot Program, he said.”We spend a lot of money putting bids together without any assurance that we’re going to get the job,” Gould said. “There’s no sense in wasting time bidding projects where there’s not a level playing field. We’re not competing in an environment that doesn’t require the Basic Pilot Program.”Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611 email@example.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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