Correction: The local hiring component involves Lorain County residents, not just Lorain residents.
LORAIN — City Council members on Monday increased hiring goals for local residents, minorities and women for city projects of $250,000 or more.
Goals for Lorain city residents increase from 25 percent to 50 percent, from 9 percent to 20 percent for minorities and 7 percent to 15 percent for women. The previous ordinance involved projects of $2 million or more and passed last year despite criticism by local unions that the $2 million figure was too high.
Companies receiving contracts aren’t required to meet the goals, but must demonstrate they made a good-faith effort to comply, said Councilman Tony Richardson, D-at large, who sponsored increases in the minority and female hiring goals. “We should aim high,” he said.
The change requires paying the prevailing Ohio wage for projects and establishing a committee by Mayor Chase Ritenauer to ensure compliance. The committee must include at least one member of a building and trade union and one member from a contractor organization.
Council members Brian Gates, D-1st Ward, Dennis Flores, D-2nd Ward, Tim Howard, D-3rd Ward, Greg Argenti, I-4th Ward, Rick Lucente, D-6th Ward, Joe Faga, D-7th Ward, Joe Koziura, D-at large, Richardson and Josh Thornsberry, I-8th Ward, voted yes. Councilman Eddie Edwards, D-5th Ward, and Dan Given, D-at large, voted no.
Ritenauer said after the meeting that most companies have met the hiring goals of the previous ordinance, but Edwards said the city isn’t doing enough to enforce them. Given said the changes should have been discussed at a committee meeting and were being rushed through.
“This is ludicrous,” Given said. “This is political. This is b.s.”
Gates accused Given of torpedoing legislation he opposes by sending it to committee and then never holding committee meetings. Given denied that, saying he has delayed holding meetings only on items involving ongoing labor negotiations.
Ritenauer said much of the ordinance language has been on the books since 2001. He said apprenticeship and education programs need to increase to expand the local hiring pool.
In other business:
Council rejected a $743,000 project to pave Dayton Avenue from West 36th Street to the southern terminus. Residents would have been assessed about $412,000 of the cost.
Edwards said it was unwise because affected residents owe about $12,000 in property taxes. “If they don’t pay their taxes on the houses, they’re definitely not going to pay taxes for the street,” he said.
Ritenauer said the issue was “tricky” but without the project, Lorain would be forced to make costly incremental repairs to the dirt road. Resident Jim Oswalt, of 3869 Dayton Ave., accused Council of collective punishment.
“In the past, I’ve got to believe there’s not a street assessed where there wasn’t delinquent property taxes,” he said. “If nine people pay and one doesn’t, that one’s going to destroy the whole project? Is that how this city’s going to be?”
Council approved an ordinance allowing auxiliary police and building and housing inspectors to issue “minor misdemeanor” citations. The citations are for housing and quality of life violations and are designed to reduce blight.