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Private companies may repair county roads without following QBS, competitive bidding laws

A county may allow a private company to repair roads they use at no cost to the county, and the design and construction of such projects would not be subject to the state's QBS or competitive bidding laws.

That's the conclusion reached by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in an opinion issued September 19 to Richland County Prosecuting Attorney James J. Mayer, Jr.

In his request for an opinion, Mayer said the county has experienced "a significant increase in the number of heavy-duty trucks using county roads . . . primarily in conjunction with oil and gas drilling operations and wind farms."  He asked whether the county could enter into an agreement with a company that conducts oil and gas drilling or wind farm operations to repair the roads it uses.

DeWine advised that a county may enter into an agreement with a private company to repair county roads and when it does so, the company is not obligated to retain an engineer according to the state's Qualifications-Based Selection law – as the county would be – nor is the company obligated to take competitive bids for the work.

However, if a county enters into such a contract, the county would be required to ensure that prevailing wages are paid by the private company.  In the opinion, DeWine specifically declined to advise whether the county could incur civil liability for failing to ensure the payment of prevailing wages.

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