JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder is asking the Missouri Housing and Development Commission to suspend a rule that prevailing wage be paid for construction of low-income residential housing in Joplin in the wake of the devastating tornado there in May.
Kinder will discuss the proposal at 9 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 14, 2011, at the Joplin Senior Center, 2202 S. Jackson St. A delegation of lawmakers representing the Joplin area also will attend. They include Reps. Charlie Davis of Webb City, Tom Flanigan of Carthage, Bill Lant and Bill White of Joplin and Bill Reiboldt of Neosho and Sen. Ron Richard of Joplin.
"Our priority in Joplin must be to replace the homes families lost in the devastating tornado in May, particularly for those low-income families who lost homes," Kinder said. "Because of the higher costs, contractors will be forced to cut back on the scale of projects for low-income housing in Joplin."
More than 4,000 Joplin homes were destroyed by the May 22 tornado. City officials have said 3,100 housing units are needed, including about 560 for low-income residents.
An increase in the prevailing wage, which was updated last year as part of the MHDC Qualified Allocation Plan for low-income housing projects, will drive up rebuilding costs in Joplin. Kinder said contractors have told him the higher costs will reduce the number of homes they will be able to build.
"Either you will lose numbers, or you will lose quality," Kinder said. "Joplin needs the numbers, but we also don't want to lose quality in the rebuilding."
A member of the MHDC, Kinder will make a motion at the commission's Dec. 16 meeting to waive the QAP requirement that prevailing wage be paid for low-income residential housing in the Joplin area. He also sent letters to commissioners and to Gov. Nixon asking them for their support.
"This is not an effort to undermine prevailing wage," Kinder said. "Natural disasters are extreme circumstances that sometimes require extraordinary remedies. We can pay workers a fair, living wage and build more homes with the same amount of money."