Associated Builders and Contractors Florida East Coast Chapter, Inc.
Local Government Candidate Questionnaire
Name: Andrew Schaller
Party Affiliation: □ Dem X Rep □ LIB □ IND □ Other _______________________
Office: X Commission □ Mayor District #: 6
Building Permit and Inspection Fees
Florida Statutes 125.56(2) and 166.222 provides that county and municipal governments may provide a schedule of reasonable building permit and inspection fees in order to defer the costs of inspection and enforcement of the provisions of its building code. Unfortunately, some governments, particularly those with significant commercial construction, use building permit and inspection fees as a “cash cow” to fund operating expenses of general government.
Would you support reducing building permit and inspection fees if they were found to be in excess of the cost of enforcement of the building code?
X Yes □No □ Unsure
Additional Comments: YES, if the analysis fairly represents a sufficient timeframe which includes both high and low intensity construction activity.
During periods of economic downturn governments look to offer assistance to their constituencies through legislative resolution. In Florida, over the last seven or eight years, we have seen this primarily in the form of a local procurement price preference on public construction projects and other procurement opportunities. In essence, the local government has a policy that allows for the local contractor, if they are not the lowest bidder to match the bid, or if they are within 5% of the low bid, simply be awarded the project. The first instance, asking a company to match someone else’s bid, is essentially bid shopping. The second instance is an open willingness for a government to pay 5% higher on their construction costs simply to benefit either a local company or a local individual.
In both cases, the preference is applied to the General Contractor bidding the project. The irony of the situation is that the majority of General Contractors now operate as Construction Management Firms. In other words, GCs do not build; they manage the people who do. The GC is awarded the project and then subs the actual building out to subcontracting firms in the individual and appropriate trades.
ABC is philosophically opposed to the use of local preferences for a number of reasons. We believe that the existence and utilization of a local preference on procurement limits competition, limits the available talent pool, increases costs on project and overall costs to taxpayers who pay for the work.
Do you support a local preference on local construction in Florida?
□Yes X No □Unsure
Additional Comments: No in the above referenced descriptions. I could be open minded to a local preference in the case of equal bids if all things are truly equal. A dead even tie could be broken by the local organization. This again assumes all aspects pf the final bid are truly equal.
Related preferences established by local governments that have increased over the last few years are local hiring mandates. These too take a variety of forms but essentially mandate that if a company who is awarded a project needs to hire workers in order to meet the demands of that project then that company must commit to hiring a certain percentage of workers from a pool of local candidates.
In some instances, the requirement is that the company do all of their hiring through a job placement service such as Career Source. Other times there is a defined pool of people that the contractor must agree to consider – occasionally referred to as “hard to hire” or “disadvantaged” workers. In order to be considered as submitting a responsive bid the contractor, at the time of bidding, must commit to adhere to these hiring policies.
In addition to making demands of who the contractor must consider for employment, these initiatives impose layers and layers of additional reporting and red tape. If a contractor feels after vetting potential employees from this pool that none are qualified, they must put this in writing along with an explanation of the candidates short comings. The employer must also submit to the governing body a list of people they do ultimately hire for the job and also state why. The employer/contractor is subjected to job site visits during the course of the project, must keep paperwork on those hired and not hired for at least a year and must do a final report on productivity of workers who end up on the job. Some ordinances go so far as to apply financial sanctions on contractors who do not adhere to the hiring mandates and all ordinances clearly state that the ability of a contractor to meet the hiring mandates on a job will be considered in future bid opportunities.
ABC is opposed to hiring mandates of this sort because local governments are essentially holding the employer hostage. If the employer/contractor wants work with that entity, then they better follow these rules and guidelines or suffer the consequences.
Do you support the imposition of hiring mandates on the commercial construction industry?
□Yes X No □Unsure
Additional Comments: No. I do however support a local preference for bids, but after bids are awarded, I believe that’s where government should back out of the private sector’s business.
If the company is performing as required and meeting all deadlines, I don’t believe government should be allowed to dictate who a private company hires or doesn’t hire.
The Davis-Bacon Act is a Depression-era wage subsidy law enacted in 1931. Its time has run out. In the 21st Century, especially in the new competitive global economy, it is essential to allow the free market system to determine wages. The intent of the law was to preserve northern construction jobs for white union men and prevent them from being taken by less expensive, less unionized southern, African-American labor. To do this, the act mandates that the area’s “prevailing wage” be paid on public projects. This has resulted in an excessive minimum wage law for construction worker on projects imposing “Davis-Bacon/Prevailing Wages”. As a result the cost of public construction projects is inflated, anywhere from 5 percent to 38 percent above what the project would have cost if competitively bid, resulting in fewer schools, roads and other public works.
Do you support imposing Davis Bacon/Prevailing Wage rates on local construction?
□Yes X No □Unsure
Additional Comments: The law of supply and demand for labor will dictate wages for skills and abilities of workers in a fair market system. The legal aid society in PBC can help those who feel they have been a victim of wage theft. (http://yourpbc.org/articles/detail.dot?id=81570)
This is an area that I am willing to become more informed based upon real world application.
Contractor Registration Fees
Florida Statute 205.65 prohibits government bodies, outside a business’ “permanent business location”, from assessing a duplicative occupational license fee or tax. Many cities and counties use such a fee/tax as yet another source of revenue. By referring to the tax as something other than a “tax”, as outlined in Florida Statute 205.065, many government entities believe they can skirt and avoid the meaning and intent of the law. Regardless of what it is called, such a fee is illegal and prohibited by state law.
Would you support repealing contractor registration fees on businesses outside their ‘permanent business location”?
X Yes □No □Unsure
Additional Comments: I am not in favor of a government charging for multiple business licenses for the same business operating within the same governmental jurisdiction. I do support the licensing of a business that has a business location operating within that governmental jurisdiction.
A custom exists in construction that the owner can retain a portion of the contract price to insure the job is completed in a satisfactory manner. This is called retainage and is normally 10%, but can be lower. The construction industry has encountered slow payment in public construction jobs for schools and other public buildings. In many cases, retainage is held long after the job is complete, oftentimes months after the public owner has occupied or began use of the building.
Do you support legislation that requires state and local governments to pay in a more timely fashion when they have performance bonds?
X Yes □No □Unsure
Additional Comments: Governments should not be allowed to take advantage of private sector monetary “floats.” Private sector businesses should not be held responsible for monetarily providing an extension of credit for governments. Terms should be according to the business contract and reasonable as in the private sector.
Union Only Project Labor Agreements
Organized Labor has attempted to have local government pass union-only Project Labor Agreements, or PLAs. These agreements ordinarily affect large public construction projects like airports, road construction, schools, government buildings and arenas. This unfair practice limits bids to union contractors and favors organized labor. ABC believes the impact is decreased competition for contractors and increased costs for government.
Would you support a prohibition of union only project labor agreements on public construction in Florida?
X Yes □No □Unsure
Additional Comments: I believe in a fair market system.
Living Wage Ordinances
Several local governments in Florida have passed or are considering requiring private contractors pay employees a minimum wage of $8 to $12 per hour. These minimums are far higher than the federal minimum wage, have a direct inflationary impact on all employee wages, and set the stage for an addition layer of government regulatory bureaucracy for private employers. These ordinances are called “living wage” ordinances.
Do you support local “living wage” ordinances?
□Yes X No □Unsure
Additional Comments: No. Federal law already protects minimum wages.
Take a moment to tell us more about you: I own and founded Palm Beach Financial Exchange, Inc. in 1994. PBFE is an electronic banking company that produces all software in house and has handled the recurring transactions for more than 550 business in the US and Puerto Rico.
During my high school and college years, I was a construction laborer for a home builder who built entire structures from basement to roof and also learned the installation of hardwood floors with a commercial flooring company. In 1999, I purchased property in Wellington and started site development for an equestrian/residential use. From 2002 -2004, construction occurred on the building phase based upon plans I designed using a computer architectural program. I was present and assisted in all aspects of construction with the exception of the concrete roofing tiles. My facility caters to world class competitors and Olympians who compete in the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington.
Since 2008, I have been a semi permanent fixture at all County Commission meetings, planning and zoning meetings, municipal meetings and events. I have been a home owner and permanent resident of District 6 since 1990.
Signed by Candidate:
Andrew F. Schaller (electronic signature, AFS)
Print or Print Name:
Andrew F. Schaller June 1, 2014
Please return completed form to:
Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., Suite 200, 3730 Coconut Creek Parkway, Coconut Creek, FL 33066
Phone: 954.984.0075 ❖ Fax: 954.984.4905