On June 30, 2009 the Ohio Supreme Court issued its decision in Northwestern Ohio Bldg. & Constr. Trades Council v. Ottawa Cty. Improvement Corp. This matter involved the purchase of land, building and office equipment for private retail use using public and private funds, in which the building was renovated using only private funds. In a unanimous 7-0 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the requirement to pay prevailing wages applies only when a public authority, including an institution, spends public funds to construct a public improvement constructed by or to benefit a public authority. The Court determined here that the project was not a "public improvement" because (i) the renovation work was financed solely by private funds and (ii) the project was not by or for any public authority.
This is the second prevailing wage decision issued by the Court in less than two weeks. The Court also recently accepted a third prevailing wage case for review concerning the rights of lower courts to waive statutory penalties once a case has moved out of the jurisdiction of the Ohio Department of Commerce. The case also addresses the ability of contractors to implead public authorities into litigation by alleging that the public authority failed to provide prevailing wage information to the contractor. Oral argument is not expected for several months, but we will continue to monitor this case closely and provide updates.