CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- In a win-win-win situation for contractors, project owners and communities, the North Carolina General Assembly has approved three major bills for the construction industry that set up a $1 billion construction bond issue, give public schools more contracting flexibility, and eliminate cumbersome paperwork for contractors. The legislation will: -- Set up a statewide voter referendum November 3, 1998 for a $1 billion bond issue for water, sewer and natural gas infrastructure improvements. -- Give public schools more flexibility in choosing either the low single- prime bid or low multi-prime bid on school construction projects above $500,000. -- Eliminate a paperwork nightmare for contractors having to withhold taxes for their out-of-state contractors and subcontractors not registered to do business in NC -- saving the construction industry thousands of dollars in time and software costs. Senator John Kerr (D-Wayne) led successful efforts for the $1 billion bond issue. According to Berry Jenkins, Carolinas Associated General Contractor's (AGC) NC Highway-Heavy Division Director, the bond referendum, if approved, will provide a significant boost to local governments' ability to address serious infrastructure deficiencies. "Water and sewer needs would receive $800 million in funding support, with the remaining $200 million for extending natural gas lines into rural counties not currently served," says Jenkins. To secure passage of the bond referendum, Carolinas AGC is working in a coalition with NC Citizens for Business and Industry, the NC League of Municipalities, the NC Association of County Commissioners, the NC Home Builders Association, and other supporting business and environmental advocacy interests. Members of Carolinas have also kicked off a fund raising effort to support a projected $500,000 fund needed to pass a referendum through radio, television and other promotional advertising. Legislative efforts for the public school legislation were led by Rep. Ed McMahan (R-Mecklenburg), Rep. Bill Owens (D-Pasquotank), Sen. Howard Lee (D-Orange) and Sen. Leslie Winner (D-Mecklenburg). According to Dave Simpson, Carolinas AGC's NC Building Division Director, the local school administrative unit shall award the contract to the lowest single-prime or multi-prime bidder while taking into consideration quality, performance, cost of construction and time considerations. "Bids may be opened after the school receives three complete sets of competitive bids, including multi-prime and/or single prime, and at least one general contractor bid," says Simpson. Simpson adds that contractors also must provide an affidavit that a good- faith effort has been made for minority-women-disadvantaged business participation. Single-prime bids are due three hours later than multi-prime bids. All bids will then be opened at the same time. The new legislation, which took effect Sept. 11, did not change the bidding system which allows projects up to $500,000 to involve single-prime bids only. Above that amount, the existing multi-prime or single-prime/multi-prime system remains in effect. Sponsored by Rep. Chuck Neely (R-Wake), the elimination of the withholding tax requirement was given final approval on September 17. "We're delighted that (this bill was approved) because this was a big burden on the construction industry," says Mike Grier of J.M. Thompson Co, Raleigh, NC. Carolinas AGC's mission is to build its 3,400 members' businesses through workforce development, business development, profit management, and CompTrust AGC -- a self-insured workers' compensation trust for members. More than 75 % of commercial and industrial construction (buildings, highways/bridges, utility facilities) in both North and South Carolina are performed by Carolinas AGC members.
SOURCE Carolinas AGC