The prevailing wage ordinance is one of those things that every spring sails through most local governing bodies with a whimper at most. But not in Rolling Meadows.
Mayor Tom Rooney, who teaches high school economics, says the Illinois law requiring certain wages for laborers on public works projects makes those jobs more costly for taxpayers while thwarting job creation.
This year no alderman even moved to bring the ordinance for a vote. Rooney takes credit for this, saying he started the campaign against the ordinance in 2001 when he was on the city council, and it's been more than a decade since Rolling Meadows has passed the ordinance.
"People who are employed are organized," Rooney said. "Taxpayers and those who are unemployed are not. And if it's really the prevailing wage, why do we need an ordinance?"
In fact, it turns out they don't. The ordinance Cook County passes annually covers projects even in home-rule cities like Rolling Meadows, Rooney acknowledges.
But he hasn't given up, and hopes more local governments will get on board. At least one already has -- Palatine Township Elementary District 15 officials earlier this year rejected the prevailing wage ordinance though, like in Rolling Meadows, it's just a symbolic act for now.
"Maybe we could get some kind of a ball rolling to say 'Hey, people down in Springfield, why don't you let us manage our affairs? We seem to be able to do it better than you can'," Rooney said.