When considering construction work, can the school district/municipal government open up bidding so that all companies can submit bids for work? 

Local governments are subject to competitive bidding laws and must advertise for sealed bids in the manner required by the applicable statutes for public works and purchase contracts which exceed the threshold amounts.  Contracts are awarded to the lowest responsible bidder that furnishes the required security.  Current thresholds requiring competitive bidding are $35,000 for public works and $20,000 for purchase contracts.  

Local governments are not only subject to competitive bidding laws but also to the Wick’s Law.  Under Wick’s, municipalities and school districts must bid out separate specifications on any construction project meeting certain thresholds.  Current thresholds requiring the provisions of Wick’s Law are $3 million in New York City, $1.5 million in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties and $500,000 in all other counties of the State.  Separate contracts must be awarded in these areas of work in accordance with the competitive bidding requirements, as discussed above.  The mandate imposed by Wick’s can significantly increase the cost of a project, as well as add to the time it takes to complete such project, all of which is passed onto taxpayers.