SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — As work on the new Law Enforcement Center (LEC) gets underway, Woodbury County Supervisors addressed concerns and accusations regarding an insufficient use of local labor to build the project on Friday.
A new Law Enforcement Center is in the works in Siouxland, but some area residents are voicing concern about the choice of workers and how the project will be funded.
Woodbury County Supervisors addressed concerns and accusations regarding an insufficient use of local labor to build the project. The county claims upwards of 60 percent of the project’s workers are local and critics are exaggerating the percentage of out-of-state workers.
Ron Wieck, chairman of Woodbury County Law Enforcement Authority said out-of-state contractors are needed to complete the project.
“We need to understand that this is a special type of facility and with the specialties needed to build this facility, a lot of times, in some spots, we don’t have the contractors in town that are qualified for some of the specific things that we need to do,” Wieck said.
Union representative Ernie Colt said local contractors do a lot for the Siouxland area, and it was disheartening to see jobs go to out-of-state contractors.
“Working with these guys, creating the friendships that we’ve created, it’s really disheartening to see all the work, there goes the word ‘all’ again, to see 90 percent of the work going out of town,” Colt said.
The supervisors also discussed how COVID-19 relief money will pay in part for the new LEC. The total cost of the project is estimated at $58 million. The county has $20 million in COVID-19 relief and plans to use $15 million of that money for the new project. Wieck said the county is allowed to use the relief money for the new facility and needed the funds to cover rising costs.
“Well it was actually with the increase in materials and so forth that was applied and then once we put that to the original number, that’s where we were at on the total cost,” Wieck said.
Ernie Colt said the use of COVID-19 funds violated the rules set forth by the treasury.
“Within the treasury’s interim rules, it states that if these funds are going to be used, they should strongly encourage local previsions, they should strongly encourage local benefits agreements and it strongly encourages the use of prevailing wage or higher,” Colt said, “So the point of contention was that treasury’s interim rules were not even acknowledged.”