Do we need governmental bodies to pass legislation requiring that jobs in our community must be given to residents of our community? Elected officials in Wheatfield and North Tonawanda think so, and apparently officials in the city of Lockport and Niagara County are considering it as well.
While NT and Wheatfield have already passed the legislation, other municipalities are being urged by the Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope, or NOAH, to support NOAH's proposal to require contractors on city, town or county projects to hire at least 30 percent of their workers from inside Niagara County.
There's a problem with this type of legislation: It drives up the costs of doing business to taxpayers.
New York State has very specific bid criteria that municipalities must follow. That criteria includes a stipulation that the lowest responsible bid must be accepted for municipal projects.
If governmental entities are forced to use local help, it reduces competition, increasing the likelihood of higher bids, higher costs to the municipality, and thus, higher costs to you and I, the taxpayer.
This is not to say that we don't support using local worker for local jobs. But the law is very clear, and what this group is advocating is a violation of that law.
NOAH pins elected officials between a rock and a hard place because they tell people that if a politician doesn't support NOAH's goals, they don't support local workers, and that's a lie.
It is not the government's job to stimulate job growth, it's their job to create a business atmosphere that's conducive for job growth. Passing legislation that directly hinders that ability is bad for the entire community, even the workers that it is supposed to benefit.
Municipalities need to take a long, hard look at this before they jump in. Then they need to have the guts to tell NOAH that this is bad for the local economy and bad for the taxpayers.