The continuation of the WICKS Law exemption for school construction in New York City will be voted on shortly in the New York State Legislature. Assemblywoman Sandra Galef is calling on the legislature to pass similar legislation to allow for all school districts in the state of New York to also be exempted from complying with WICKS.
The WICKS Law, adopted in 1912, requires that rather than having a general contractor, multiple contracts be awarded when a construction project exceeds $50,000. WICKS was originally enacted to protect the rights of subcontractors and to curb corruption. In recent decades, laws have been passed that provide the same protections of WICKS without the added costs and complications of having multiple contractors. New York is the only state in the nation to enforce this type of requirement. Currently, New York City, Buffalo, and Niagara Falls school districts have received special exemptions from the WICKS Law.
Galef stated, "As we are dealing with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit and the high costs imposed in settling the case, it is clear that school districts not considered to be high needs districts will be receiving less state aid. One way we can help the taxpayers of my schools and others in the state is to allow them to be exempted from the WICKS LAW and save 10-30% on the capital construction. Now is the time to have all school districts in the state on the same playing field when it comes to school construction."
Galef proposed four bills this year to allow Haldane, Putnam Valley, Peekskill and Ossining schools in her district to be exempted from WICKS, as well as a statewide reform bill.
Numerous reports dealing with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit have recommended changes in the WICKS Law. The CFE notes, "the enormous outstanding need statewide for school construction and renovation argues for a statewide exemption for all school districts."
Support for WICKS Law reform comes from the Governor of the State of New York, the New York State Board of Regents, the Zarb Commission, and the New York State Association for Superintendents of School Buildings and Grounds.
"There is no better time than now to end this major discrepancy in state law and to allow our school taxpayers well deserved savings," concluded Galef.