Cronyism Nearly Doubles Montco Courthouse Cost
By Joe Gale
The proposed Montgomery County budget for 2019 includes an unacceptable increase in funding for the Courthouse Campus project in Norristown. This initiative was originally estimated to cost a sizable $281 million but has suddenly risen to a shocking $406 million. That is a jump of $125 million, or 44 percent, for a plan that is already the most expensive capital improvement project in County history.
To make matters worse, I have received letters from politicians including Senator Bob Casey, Governor Tom Wolf and State Representatives Matt Bradford and Mary Jo Daley, as well as notes from various labor and trade unions, pushing me to vote ‘Yes’ on the enactment of a Project Labor Agreement (“PLA”).
Doing so would mandate the use of union labor, thereby excluding 80 percent of otherwise qualified construction firms from participating in the bidding process.
Across the board, PLAs reduce competition and grow construction costs by an average of 20 percent. In this case, that means the Courthouse Campus project could balloon by an additional $80-100 million and reach a total expenditure of half a billion dollars!
Despite vast pressure from political insiders, I will not pander to lobbyists and special interest groups at the expense of Montgomery County taxpayers.
Therefore, I have asked my fellow County Commissioners for common-sense compromise to prevent the already bloated cost of the Courthouse Campus project from further spiraling out of control.
If my fellow Commissioners join me in rejecting a reckless PLA and agree to scale back the Courthouse Campus project to the initial cost of $281 million, I will vote in support of the proposed 2019 Budget to help give the residents, families and businesses of Montgomery County a bi-partisan victory.