Municipal Associations Strongly Oppose Expansion of Prevailing Wage

Historic Preservation, Affordable Housing, Brownfield Redevelopment, and Economic Revitalization at Risk
FOR RELEASE: Immediately - June 20, 2019
CONTACT: Charles Wiff  (607) 743-8314

Municipal Associations Strongly Oppose Expansion of Prevailing Wage

The executive directors of the statewide municipal associations representing New York's counties, cities, towns and villages today repeated their associations' strong opposition to expanding the non-prevailing "prevailing wage" to any economic development project that receives public funding. The local government cost and tax impact of such action must be taken into consideration when evaluating the pros and cons of this state mandate. In a high-tax State like New York, any proposal that would increase the cost of doing business or running municipal governments should be rejected.

Peter A. Baynes, Executive Director of the New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM), said: “The term ‘prevailing wage' as it is used in New York is a misnomer. As calculated by the New York State Department of Labor, the prevailing wage can exceed the average market wage by more than 50 percent, and as a result already inhibits the undertaking of public works projects. Expanding the application of New York's often-inflated prevailing wage would have crippling effects on myriad projects that the State and its local government partners have previously found to be important and vital to New York. From affordable housing, to historic preservation, to the mitigation of vacant and abandoned properties and the revitalization of our regional economies, critically important programs that improve the quality of peoples' lives will be hamstrung and retrenched if New York's faulty prevailing wage is expanded.”

Stephen J. Acquario, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), said: “Local governments support policies that help working men and women. If the intent of this legislation is to strengthen the ability to work and the ability to earn a decent living, then that is a worthwhile end. However, in this case the means to that end will end up driving businesses out of New York because construction costs will be too high. This legislation will hurt the workers it intends to help because there will be fewer and fewer construction projects in the State. The State should enact policies that support job creation, rather than policies that reduce the number of projects that can be built.”

Gerry Geist, Executive Director of the Association of Towns of the State of New York (AOTSNY), said:
“New York seems to continually find itself on the wrong end of the metrics. Since New York already has some of the highest construction costs in the nation, expanding the prevailing wage in this tough economic climate will bring infrastructure and other development projects to a screeching halt, putting New York, again, at the back of the line when it comes to competing with the rest of country in terms of economic development and quality of life.”