When applying for jobs on public works projects in the city, local tradesmen shouldn't expect any preferential treatment for noting Haverhill as their hometown.

Mayor James Fiorentini has withdrawn his plan to enforce a city ordinance demanding contractors working on public projects hire 30 percent of their staff from workers living in Haverhill.

Despite his creation of the Haverhill Residents Construction Employment Monitoring Committee in September of 2010 to oversee the enforcement, Fiorentini he is backing away from the ordinance because of a recent discussion with City Solicitor William Cox.

Cox said a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Boston in October ruled a similar ordinance unconstitutional.

The Utility Contractors Association of New England complained that a Fall River ordinance mandating half of all tradesmen on a public project be employed from that city was discriminatory.

The court ruled in favor of the contractors association, noting the ordinance would negatively impact the state's economy by leaving skilled tradesmen out of work and lacked a constitutionally justifiable reason for the practice.

Cox noted the wording of Fall River's ordinance resembled that of Haverhill's, leaving Haverhill open for potential lawsuits if the law was actively practiced.

"I don't see (the ordinance) defensible based on this," he said.

The Haverhill ordinance was designed to fine contractors up to $300 a day for failing to meet the local staffing mandate. Waivers were possible if a contractor proved they couldn't meet the requirements. The ordinance was enacted in 1991, but never officially enforced by the city.

At the Dec. 20 City Council meeting, Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O'Brien asked to remove discussion of the ordinance from the Administration and Finance Committee after Fiorentini said potential legal problems came to light.

"I should have done the research," the mayor said.

Cox said he will ask the council to kill the ordinance at a meeting in January to head off any potential lawsuits.

"I think it's better to repeal it," he said.

Fiorentini tried to revive the ordinance earlier, after a Haverhill electrician complained none of the electricians who worked on the Haverhill High School renovation project lived in the city.

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