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Thomas Clatterbuck

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The Springfield City Council is fully in support of fixing Chatham Road. There is even agreement in how the repairs should be done. Crews will use a mastic sealant to fill cracks in the road, which should greatly extend the lifespan of the surface. And the company that won the bid to do the work came in $82,000 below the next closest bid.

There is only one problem. The company that won the bid, Denler Inc., has not met the local labor requirements on previous jobs. Although there were no problems with the quality of their work, and they had much higher rates of minority and female participation than the city requires; the last time they had a city contract, they used zero local laborers. Local ordinances required 50 percent of workers to be residents of Springfield. This ordinance is backed up with fees and penalties for noncompliance. Denler Inc. elected to build the cost of these penalties into their bid on the previous project.

Several aldermen were upset that a company simply built the cost of noncompliance fines into their bid. In response to this incident, the council has been working to strengthen the ordinance. Companies that fail to hire sufficient local workers may be barred from bidding on future city contracts for a number of years, in addition to monetary penalties.

David Denler, owner of Denler Inc., said that given the proposed rule changes, he is willing to comply with the local rules. Still, his past actions, along with some statements made during the meeting, have raised concerns in the community and the council. Specifically, questioning the readiness of workers who have come out of local apprenticeship programs. Denler indicated that based on other apprenticeship programs he is aware of, taking on local labor instead of using his own workers introduces risk of injury. These concerns are multiplied by Illinois’ workman’s comp laws.

Weather Concerns

Construction work has a limited season. The mastic sealant needs warm, dry conditions to work. Once the pavement gets below 40 degrees, the mastic cannot be applied. If Chatham road is going to be fixed this year, it likely needs to be done by November. Denler said the mastic work will only take ten to twelve working days to complete.

Public Works Director Mahoney said that if the city waits until next year, the cost of the project will be higher. Public Works engineers expressed concerns about rebidding the project out for the new local labor rules. The bidding process can take eight weeks, which would end too late in the season for work to be done. Denler cautioned that if the process goes out to bid again, contractors may or may not be available because of how construction companies schedule work.

Governmental balancing act

The council took no action last night, and will discuss both the Chatham Road contract and the labor ordinance more at next week’s committee of the whole meeting. Their decision won’t be an easy one. Springfield has serious budget issues, and a limited timeframe to do the work this year. But the council also needs to ensure contractors can’t simply ignore local ordinances as a cost of doing business. Hiring residents is good for the local economy, but so is saving taxpayer money by going with the lowest bidder.

Denler Inc. has a mixed track record. They made a business decision on their last deal that they have to live with. Does good work at a low cost offset past instances of flouting local rules? They say that they are now in compliance with the rules, but the council wants to ensure that compliance on the front end, rather than after the project is finished.

Both the labor ordinance and the contract remain in committee. The next city council meeting where they could be discussed will be September 4th.

You can watch the full discussion in the player. The Denler contract starts at the 30 minute mark.

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Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.

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LIVE | Springfield City Council Committee of the Whole April 9th

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Follow along live with the Springfield City Council committee of the whole meeting. The council will be discussing proposals to allow businesses to access the local fiber optic network. Fiber optic connections can dramatically increase network speeds over other technologies.

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City branch pickup starts tomorrow in the Northwest Quadrant

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Springfield’s spring branch pickup program starts Monday, April 8th. Each quadrant of the city will have two pickup dates, one in April and one in May. Crews will only visit each quadrant once per month. The first pickup will be in the Northwest Quadrant.

Size of Branch Piles

Branches must meet the following standards to be picked up:

  • No larger than 3 foot in height, 4 foot in depth, and 10 feet in length;
  • Piles larger than a small pickup load will not be picked up by the city;
  • The program is for branches only, no logs will be accepted
  • Branches/limbs trimmed by a commercial contractor will not be picked up; and
  • Branches must be placed on the curb not obstructing the street or sidewalk.

Small branches may also be broken up and put into yard waste bags for pick up by your waste hauler.

Year-Round Residential Branch Drop Off

Residents may drop off branches, free of charge year-round, to Evans Recycling with proof of residency. This service is not for commercial contractors but for city residents only. Evans Recycling is located at 2100 J. David Jones Parkway and is open Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, 7:00 a.m. – 12-noon. Contact number is 217.391.0886.

Pickup schedule

Week of April 8th & May 6th

  • Northwest Quadrant – area north of South Grand Avenue and Old Jacksonville Road.  West of Walnut Street/J David Jones Parkway.

Week of April 15th & May 13

  • Southwest Quadrant – area south of South Grand Avenue and Old Jacksonville Road.  West of Walnut Street.

Week of April 22nd & May 20th

  • Southeast Quadrant– area south of South Grand Avenue and east of Walnut Street, including the properties around Lake Springfield.

Week of April 29th & May 27th

  • Northeast Quadrant – area north of South Grand Avenue and east of Walnut/J. David Jones Parkway.

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LIVE | Springfield City Council Meeting April 3rd

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Follow along live with the Springfield City Council meeting for April 3rd, 2019. This meeting was moved for the April 2nd, election. There will be a presentation by Public Works on yard waste pickup service in the city. They also discussed providing funding for the Land of Lincoln Economic Development Corporation.

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