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Town Seeks Wicks Law Exemption
Release Date: January 09, 2003

Paul Feiner
Greenburgh Town Supervisor
l/9/02  NY STATE MAKES LOCAL GOVERNMENTS OVERPAY BY AS MUCH AS 30% WHEN CONSTRUCTING BUILDINGS. GREENBURGH TOWN SUPERVISOR SEEKS EXEMPTION FOR TOWN---- Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner announced that he has called a special meeting of the Greenburgh Town Board  for this Tuesday, January l4th at 3PM to vote on a resolution that will ask State Senator Nick Spano and Assemblyman Richard Brodsky to introduce legislation in Albany to exempt the Town of Greenburgh from the Wicks Law----a law that increases construction costs by as much as 30%. The Town of Greenburgh is planning to renovate a just acquired building for its Town Hall and is also planning to expand the library. If the town receives the Wicks Law exemption the savings to the taxpayers can be over 3 million dollars.
Feiner said that the Wicks Law mandates that all public construction projects be awarded to 4 specific contractors. This is cumbersome, wasteful AND RESULTS IN INCREASED TAXES.  WHY SHOULD THE GOVERNMENT OVERPAY?  WHY SHOULD WE PAY MORE THAN THE PRIVATE SECTOR TO DO THE SAME THING, FEINER SAID.
A l993 study conducted by NY State's Division of the Budget claimed that the Wicks Law added as much as $400 milion a year in construction costs throughout the state. 
As you will note from the following press press release the City of Buffalo received a Wicks law exemption in December 2000. Various state agencies also receive exemptions.

December 27, 2000


New Law Allows Buffalo School District To Address Critical Infrastructure Needs

Governor George E. Pataki today signed into law legislation that will allow the City of Buffalo and the Buffalo City School District to begin initial implementation of their ambitious local plan for the rehabilitation and modernization of the district's aging school bui lding infrastructure.

The law will provide the Buffalo City School District with greater financia l flexibility to proceed with its comprehensive plans to update the City's school facilities. The law also provides the district with a Wicks Law exemption, greater Mayoral and private sector invo lvement and more efficient construction practices.

"Working together with Mayor Masiello, County Executive Giambra, the Buffal o City School District, the Joint Schools Construction Board and the local community, w e have enacted a law that will breathe new life into one of the State's oldest school building in frastructures," Governor Pataki said. "This new law will allow the City of Buffalo and the Bu ffalo School District to rehabilitate and modernize their existing school facilities, ensuring that th e children of Buffalo can continue to receive a quality education in a safe, secure learning environme nt."

Erie County Executive Joel Giambra said, "Governor Pataki has made a monume ntal commitment to the future of our area's schools, especially our urban schools. Ci ty kids deserve this investment, and I'm delighted Governor Pataki is making reconstruction possible. He's sending the same message statewide that we're sending here: we want to make deteriorating sc hools a thing of the past."

Buffalo Mayor Anthony M. Masiello said, "By signing this legislation, Gover nor Pataki has helped solidify the future of public school education in the City of Buffalo. Th is bill ensures that generations of schoolchildren will have a nurturing learning environment in stat e-of-the-art schools. It provides key investments in school infrastructure, will further strengthen ou r City's diverse neighborhoods and forms a critical part of our overall economic development stra tegy.

I thank the Governor for his support, our State legislative delegation - particu larly Assemblyman Arthur Eve and Senator Dale Volker -- for their efforts and the members of our Joint Schools Construction Board and the leadership of the City's Board of Education for their vision that led to this legislation. All of these individuals and groups came together to help crea te what will long be regarded as one of the most important pieces of State legislation for public edu cation in the City of Buffalo."

Senator Dale Volker said, "Governor Pataki's commitment to New York's child ren has been monumental. From the Child Health Plus program for uninsured children, to the en actment of my legislation that would allow Buffalo school construction to move forward expedit iously, the Governor has once again brought all parties together to do what is right for our state's children."

Assemblyman Arthur Eve said, "We are indeed very appreciative of the Govern or for signing this historic bill. The first of its kind in New York State and maybe in the na tion, this bill will provide the needed resources to bring Buffalo schools up to modern day standards . I'd like to thank Governor Pataki for signing this bill and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Se nator Volker for being so supportive."

The law ensures the State's two largest city school districts, New York Cit y and Buffalo, have exemptions to the Wicks Law requirements. The Wicks Law subjects localities and local districts across the State to an outdated mandate that unnecessarily increases l ocal construction costs by requiring them to use multiple contractors rather than a single contractor on construction projects. By exempting the Buffalo School District from this undue cost burden for new con struction projects, it is estimated that construction costs will be cut by more than 10 percent.

"The Wicks Law exemption will promote efficiency and potentially save the Buffalo School District and taxpayers millions of dollars," the Governor said. "We will continue to advocate for the Wicks Law exemption to be applied statewide, so that every school district across the State can take advantage of significant cost-savings."

Governor Pataki applauded the renewed local partnership between the City, county and private sector and the initial funds that both the City and County have committed toward the Buffalo School District's multi-year capital plan. The private-sector involvement in the development of school facilities is expected to bring greater efficiency and accountability to school construction.

"Clearly this local partnership has worked diligently to address the pressing infrastructure needs of the Buffalo City Schools, and has made a good start in identifying local resources to begin the job of reconstructing its aging facilities," Governor Pataki said.

The Buffalo City School District has projected a decline in school enrollment of up to 25 percent over the next ten years. In view of this declining enrollment, and the substantial commitment of local resources necessary to implement their ambitious capital plan, Governor Pataki encouraged the district and local leaders to proceed in a prudent and fiscally responsible fashion.

"New York State has one of the most generous school construction aid programs in the nation. However, we need to continue seeking additional reforms in order to ensure that State and local resources are more effectively targeted to address identified educational needs and priorities, such as aging school buildings and health and safety concerns. I strongly encourage the Board, the Mayor and local leaders to expend local and State funds wisely, so that the construction dollars we spend will provide the maximum benefit to our children,"Governor Pataki said.

Under State aid formulas for school construction, Buffalo would qualify for significantly more state reimbursement for reconstruction and rehabilitation of existing buildings than for constructing new buildings.

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