Members of the Palatine village council took their opposition to a state law on paying contractors one step further than other suburbs by voting Monday to establish a legislative initiative to change the rules altogether.
The Prevailing Wage Act requires that contractors pay their workers a state-dictated wage for work on publicly funded projects. Village Manager Reid Ottesen told the council his staff estimates the law increases the cost of large village projects by 20 percent to 30 percent.
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"We're trying to say bring us the best competition that you can and bring us the best price that you can without having these artificial barriers put in our way," Ottesen said after the meeting.
It's common practice for municipalities to adopt a local ordinance stating they abide by the law. In May, the Mount Prospect board unanimously rejected a similar ordinance for much of the same reason that the Palatine councilmen cited.
During the discussion Monday night, Councilman Scott Lamerand said he wanted to do more than the Mount Prospect board.
"It's a strong message people are sending," Lamerand said. "But it doesn't do anything, it doesn't change anything,"
Lamerand said instead the council should work with Palatine's representatives in the General Assembly, state Rep. Tom Morrison and state Sen. Matt Murphy, as well as the Northwest Municipal Conference, a group that represents 42 municipalities, to address the issue.
"I mean, we could sit up here and take shots at the state because it's easy to do," Lamerand said. "It kind of gets to be sort of redundant, and I'm the one doing it, so I totally admit that's my fault, but with that, we never get anywhere."
The council voted unanimously to table the ordinance and to draft a proclamation about the prevailing wage law.
Councilman Tim Millar said he wanted to educate the public about how the prevailing wage law hurts the village. He suggested including it in the village newsletter.
"It wouldn't hurt to have more people understand the penalty we're all paying for what really is a corruption tax. Let's face it, that's what it is," Millar said. "Because that prevailing wage is the same in Chicago as it is in southern Illinois, and you know those costs aren't the same."
Even though the council didn't pass the prevailing wage ordinance, the village is still required to abide by the state law.
Ottesen said the village will draft and adopt the proclamation at a later meeting.