Any public authority authorized to let to contract the construction of a public improvement shall, before advertising for bids for the construction thereof, ascertain from Workforce West Virginia, the fair minimum rate of wages to be paid by the successful bidder to the laborers, workers or mechanics in the various branches or classes of the construction to be performed; and such schedule of wages shall be made a part of the specifications for the construction and shall be published in an electronic or other medium and incorporated in the bidding blanks by reference when approved by Workforce West Virginia where the construction is to be performed by contract. The fair minimum rate of wages, for the intents and purposes of this article, shall be the prevailing rate of wages paid in the regions of this state as hereinbefore defined to the workers, laborers or mechanics in the same trade or occupation in the construction industry. Workforce West Virginia shall assemble the data as to the fair minimum wage rates and shall file wage rates. Rates shall be established and filed as hereinafter provided on January 1, of each year, unless otherwise specified within this article. These rates shall prevail as the minimum wage rate for all public improvements for which bids are asked during the year beginning with the date when such new rates are filed and, until the new rates are filed, the rates for the preceding year shall remain in effect: Provided, That such rates shall not remain in effect for a period longer than fifteen months from the date they are published, but this provision shall not affect construction of a public improvement then underway: Provided, however, That this section applies only to contracts let for public improvements whose cost at the time the contract is awarded will be paid with public money in an amount greater than $500,000.
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