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Published: Saturday, 4/17/2004

Contractor: 98% of job was done by locals

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Less than 2 percent of the work on a federally funded Alexis Road senior housing project was done by out-of-town workers, according to a contractor whose use of nonlocal labor prompted Toledo City Council to kill the contractor's request for backing on two unrelated projects.

The dispute over local vs. out-of-town jobs cost Toledo the chance to bid on millions of dollars in state of Ohio low-income tax credits. And it could have set back - perhaps permanently - the effort to find a contractor willing to redevelop the crumbling Ira Apartments at 1302 Parkside Blvd.

The Wallick Co., of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, had sought resolutions endorsing two applications for state low-income housing tax credits from council. One was for Phase II of the $9.5 million Garden View Estates project on Angola Road. The other was a $4 million renovation of the Ira Apartments. The deadline to apply was March 18. Neither project involved city funds.

Council tabled the resolution on March 9 because of the builder's use of out-of-town labor and suppliers on the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association senior housing project on Alexis Road. The 50-unit senior housing project is being paid for entirely by $3.5 million in federal Housing and Urban Development funds.

In a letter responding to a complaint from Councilman Betty Shultz, Wallick project manager Valerie Clevenger defended the company's hiring practices on the AHEPA project.

"While our contract doesn't mandate locally based, union-only labor, Toledo-area trades participation stands at 98%+ of total man-hours worked to date," Ms. Clevenger said. She said the remaining 1.7 percent of man-hours were put in by a dozen nonlocal trim carpenters who are all Ohio residents and taxpayers.

Councilman Frank Szollosi said yesterday that he told a representative of Wallick in early February that he would not vote for their resolutions unless they committed to using local workers.

Mr. Szollosi acknowledged he was not aware of any violations of city laws or regulations in Wallick's choice of subcontractors.

But he said he has submitted a list of previous projects to the city's contract compliance office to find out if they complied with prevailing wage laws and city income tax laws.

The complaints surfaced in February when a carpenters' union organizer, Tim Moran, of the Ohio Vicinity Regional Council of Carpenters, complained to U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) that workers were not being paid the prevailing wage at the AHEPA project on Alexis.

Miss Kaptur complained in a Feb. 3 letter to Douglas Shelby, HUD's Cleveland field office director, asking him to intervene to make sure Wallick was following prevailing wage laws and was using the proper materials.

In responses dated March 8 and March 16, Mr. Shelby said HUD already was monitoring Wallick's compliance with prevailing wage laws through weekly certified payroll reports.

Ms. Clevenger claimed that the package offered by the local union was 30 percent higher than the project's budget.

The two projects on council's agenda would have created an estimated $10 million investment in housing in the city.

Approval of the resolutions would not have cost Toledo money, but they would have given Wallick points in the scoring for the tax credits.

James Carswell, chief executive officer of Wallick, said that he was denied the resolutions because he would not make a commitment to contract with a local carpenters' union.

Mr. Moran said he didn't believe Wallick's other contractor could do the same work for 30 percent cheaper than the local contractor, since the quality of materials and the wage rates were mandated by the contract.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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