Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Using Volunteers on Public Works Projects

In Washington state, RCW 35.21.278 addresses the question of when volunteers from a community service organization may be used on a public works project. 

Do competitive bidding requirements apply?  This state law enables certain types of public agencies to contract with certain community service organizations for certain public works projects without going through a competitive bidding process to select the community service organization.

What public agency types are covered?  The state law gives authority only to the following public agency types:
  • County
  • City
  • Town
  • School district
  • Metropolitan park district
  • Park and recreation district
  • Port district
  • Park and recreation service area
Other types of public agencies are not covered by this law.

What is a community service organization?  The law states that an authorized public agency may contract with the following types of organizations:
  • A chamber of commerce
  • A service organization
  • A community, youth, or athletic association
  • Other similar association located and providing service in the immediate neighborhood
What type of work can be performed?  The law provides that an authorized public agency can contract with an authorized community service organization for the following services:
  • Drawing design plans
  • Making improvements to a park, school playground, public square, or port habitat site
  • Installing equipment or artworks
  • Providing maintenance services for a facility or facilities as a community or neighborhood project
  • Environmental stewardship project
Can volunteer expenses be paid?  The authorized public agency may reimburse the contracting association its expense.  "The contracting association may use volunteers in the project and provide the volunteers with clothing or tools; meals or refreshments; accident/injury insurance coverage; and reimbursement of their expenses." 

How much can the public agency reimburse for expenses?  "The value of the improvements, artworks, equipment, or maintenance shall have a value at least equal to three times that of the payment to the contracting association."  In other words, if the reimbursable expenses to be paid by the public agency for an improvement was $2,000, the value of the actual improvement would have to be at least $6,000. 

Are there other dollar limitations of how much can be reimbursed?  On an annual basis (not on a per project basis or community service organization basis), an authorized public agency may reimburse all community service organizations only up to a maximum of $25,000, or $2 "per resident within the boundaries of the public entity, whichever is greater."

Presidential History:
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