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updated: 6/14/2013 9:32 AM

Palatine, Dist. 15 officials speak out against prevailing wage

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They can't do much, if anything, about it, but officials in both Palatine and Palatine Township Elementary District 15 this week made their position known toward the prevailing wage.

Illinois statute requires all government units under state jurisdiction to hire contractors for public works projects that pay at least a minimum of the Cook County or Lake County prevailing wage rates for public works and construction employees.

Officials call it one of the state's many unfunded mandates, and Palatine estimates its capital projects cost an additional 25 percent as a direct result.

Councilman Scott Lamerand, who chairs the village's finance committee, said it has a "huge impact" on the village's budget each year.

"We don't have any say in it," Lamerand said. "We can't vote against it and not accept the prevailing wage."

While the Palatine council unanimously approved the Illinois Department of Labor's prevailing wage rates, a yearly practice relegated to the routine consent agenda, the District 15 board put its foot down.

Officials there decided to make a "political statement," as Superintendent Scott Thompson referred to it, voting to reject the same measure. But they acknowledged their unified action meant little else.

"We're obligated to pay it either way," board member David Seiffert said.

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