A requirement to pay construction workers a specific wage on some city-supported projects could be lifted to spur the creation of more affordable housing.

The city currently requires developers to pay prevailing wages on projects that received city support through tax-increment financing, but some developers have indicated the wage requirements increase costs that are later reflected in rents.

“While I think the prevailing wage is important, if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority,” council member Michael Wojcik said on Oct. 5 in proposing that the council consider cutting the requirement for developers willing to build housing that’s affordable to people earning less than half the area median income.

He said one developer showed him how the wage requirement can add $32,000 to the cost of building a single unit of housing.

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Council President Randy Staver said he’s apprehensive, but willing to consider the option.

“While I understand we are trying to encourage affordable housing, I’m not sure this is the best way to do it, to maybe do it on the backs of the workforce,” he said.

On the other hand, council member Shaun Palmer cited a desire to go beyond the recommendation.

“I’d like to see it done for all residential units that have TIF in it,” he said, adding that the move would provide more competitive bidding on all housing projects in the city, since prevailing wages often are union wages that some non-union contractors struggle to provide.

“To me, this makes common sense to get rid of this,” Palmer added.

Monday’s proposal would only apply to affordable-housing projects where state or federal housing tax credits make up more than 50% of the project’s funding sources or when multi-family rental housing projects will provide at least half of the units at a price deemed affordable to households earning 50% of the area median income.

The council will review the proposal during its 3:30 p.m. meeting Monday in council chambers of the city-county Government Center at 151 Fourth St. SE. It will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

Meetings scheduled to be held during the week of Nov. 9 include:

Rochester

  • City Council, 3:30 p.m. Monday in the council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE. The council will meet as the city’s Economic Development Authority following the meeting/ The meetings will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188.
  • Park Board, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Parks and Recreation Office of City Hall, 201 Fourth St. SE. Dial-in information for listening to the meeting live can be requested by emailing parknrec@rochestermn.gov. Video will be posted online following the meeting.
  • Energy Commission, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers of the government center. Video will be posted online following the meeting.
  • Charter Commission, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, information for accessing the online meeting is available at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas

Olmsted County

  • Olmsted County Justice Council, 6 p.m. Tuesday via Skype. Call County Administration Office 507-328-6008 to request a meeting link.
  • Planning Advisory Commission, 7 p.m. Thursday in board chambers of the government center. The meeting will be livestreamed at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/

Rochester Public Schools

  • School Board study session, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the boardroom of the Edison Building, 615 Seventh St. SW. Livestream at youtube.com/ISD535