Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and the Ohio Department of Commerce released a set of guidance documents on September 9, 2008 that detail the administration’s goals in enforcing prevailing wage laws for public/private partnerships in Ohio (Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4115). These documents were prepared to “clarify the Department of Commerce’s position on when prevailing wage applies to construction projects where there is a combination of public and private funding.”
In addition to construction projects, the guidelines also address development projects, infrastructure improvements, the installation of equipment and environmental remediation.
The documents provide a roadmap of when prevailing wage applies and add clarity, through a series of examples, to particular circumstances where application of prevailing wage might have previously been ambiguous. Specifically, the administration highlights the impact of public dollars on:
- Infrastructure improvements on public land adjacent to private development;
- Infrastructure improvements on private land;
- Remediation of environmental hazards (including asbestos and brownfield remediation);
- Installation of machinery and equipment; and,
- Multiple-building sites (including corporate campuses).
The Department of Commerce will interpret and apply the prevailing wage laws to such circumstances to determine the impact of public funding on a project based on the timing between the application for public dollars and the identification of a private developer or end-user. Ultimately, the Department of Commerce is committed to providing an early determination to requesting entities, “as to whether prevailing wage applies to a given project.” This determination will be made within 30 days of the request.
The guidelines and frequently asked questions attached will be helpful to entities engaging in private projects with public funding components. Continuing questions are inevitable, however, and the Governor’s administration may be modifying their approach in the near future.