The County Judges’ Association of Arkansas (CJAA) held its annual Roads Seminar Oct. 24-26, 2017, at Lake DeGray Resort State Park. Over the course of the three-day meeting, speakers touched on topics such as drug and alcohol testing and procurement. Above left: AAC Chief Legal Counsel Mark Whitmore addresses attendees. Above right: Benton County Judge Brad Moehring shares his county’s road plan.

filed with the clerk. Tis is the fundamental framework of the county judge’s duties and powers in contracting for the county.

Among some of the notable recent changes in the law was

House Bill (HB) 1595, Act 725 of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Mike Holcomb, a former Jefferson County judge, and Sen. Ronald Caldwell. Te purpose of Act 725 was to update the construction laws for public works projects in Arkansas. Act 725 of 2017 amended Ark. Code § 22-9-202, 203 and 209 in order to raise the threshold for competitive bidding of construction contracts from $20,000 set in 2001 to $35,000 (to account for 16 years of inflation). Many minor repairs or improvements to buildings these days cost in excess of $20,000. Te increased bid threshold of $35,000 will save significant costs to the contractors and the taxing units in the bid process and advertising. Te bid threshold under Act 725 applies to cities, counties, school districts and state agencies (except the Arkansas Department of Transportation). Con- struction inflation justified a higher increase so a few mem- bers of the committee of the General Assembly preferred an increase to $35,000 but agreed to consideration of an increase to $50,000 at a future date. An increase to $50,000 at a future date will be plainly justified due to construction inflation. Also, an increase to $50,000 will be in line with the $50,000 threshold for requiring a contractor’s license adopted under Act 1048 of 2015, Senate Bill (SB) 631 sponsored by Sen. Bart Hester. Such legislation also will further save on bid and publication


costs. On a similar note, the CJAA should consider legisla- tion to increase the trigger for use of a civil engineer, which currently is $25,000. Mississippi and Tennessee use a more reasonable threshold for requiring a civil engineer: $50,000. HB 1383 sponsored by Rep. John Vines and Sen. David

Wyatt, now deceased, was adopted as Act 494 of 2013. Te Act amended Ark. Code § 22-9-202 to provide that county public works projects are authorized through sepa- rate procurement of labor, materials, professional services (architect or agency construction manager) and construction work from one or more separate contractors under separate invoice. Tis process avoids the need for a general contrac- tor and may result in substantial savings in the cost of labor and materials. A county may purchase materials for less or with mark-up by a general contractor. Also, by using separate contractors the work may be done with county labor and equipment or with local contractors that expense fewer costs for mobilization. In many instances project needs can be acquired separately, expeditiously and less costly. Many bills filed in the area of construction law are not borne from request by the counties. Sen. Hester and Rep. Jim Dotson sponsored SB 601 (now Act 1068 of 2017) to repeal the Arkansas prevailing wage. Te Arkansas prevail- ing wage tied the contractor’s payment to their laborers for wages to a regional wage for construction workers set by the state of Arkansas, rather than wages tied to the market. Te

See “CONTRACTS” on Page 16 >>> 15

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