Opinion of the Pinnacle

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Public projects can vex SBC contractors
Local contractors hoping to bid on public projects such as the
new, $30 million San Benito County Courthouse often face the
obstacle of required bonding. Area officials could help the
situation by establishing a guide through the maze of mandates,
while contractors would be wise to explore the logistics and
legalities of partnerships that might strengthen their bonding
abilities.
Public projects can vex SBC contractors

Local contractors hoping to bid on public projects such as the new, $30 million San Benito County Courthouse often face the obstacle of required bonding. Area officials could help the situation by establishing a guide through the maze of mandates, while contractors would be wise to explore the logistics and legalities of partnerships that might strengthen their bonding abilities.

About 60 local contractors attended a recent meeting about the state-funded courthouse project at which the manager at-risk, Kitchell, advised them on prospects for involvement in the upcoming endeavor.

One of the main concerns was the bonding factor because a large majority of local contractors do not have the resources for it. It is an inherent problem in San Benito County and it strains the local economy because a lot of the publicly-contracted work here is done by out-of-town businesses.

When courthouse meeting attendees expressed concern about having the means to bond on a multi-million-dollar project, one contractor asked how many of the five dozen present believed they could bond a $3 million to $5 million project, as an example to grasp their capability in general.

Just one of them raised a hand.

It is a challenge for the county building industry, yet not necessarily an impediment toward gaining a benefit from such a major project as the new courthouse.

Smaller contractors, as Kitchell pointed out, can bid on the subcontracting under a general contractor who oversees the project. Bonding is not required by the state for subcontracting.

It is just one of the requirements often leaving area builders hamstrung or disadvantaged on major public projects. Others, such as having to pay prevailing wage, also can create problems. It is inflated and would cause issues for those businesses down the road when they offer less compensation for work.

There is not much local government leadership can do aside from making the guidelines – and how to achieve them – as clear as possible, and we encourage local leaders to map out the process to simplify any complexities.

We also encourage local contractors to explore whatever possible avenues, such as collaborative efforts, can lead to their contention for big-dollar public projects.

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