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Most of the Homewood Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday consisted of routine matters, with one exception. Trustee Jay Heiferman abstained from voting on a resolution required by the state to affirm the village’s compliance with the prevailing wage law.

Jay Heiferman

Heiferman offered an explanation for his abstention, a gesture meant to call attention to what he considers an outdated state law that limits what municipalities can accomplish because it creates higher labor costs. 

“We’re required to pass an ordinance expressing our support and compliance,” he said, and it was the requirement to support the law that he objected to. He agreed that compliance was necessary.

“This 1941 law costs taxpayers far more than what the true commercial market rates would be for almost every project we do,” he said. After the meeting he cited a graph that compares Cook County prevailing wages with national wages for the same jobs.

An electrician, for example, gets paid $44.00 per hour in Cook County on jobs that qualify for prevailing wage, while the national average is $26.21 per hour. 

Prevailing wages apply for laborers, mechanics and other workers involved in public works construction projects.

Although he said the prevailing wage law is due for reform, he clarified that he was not arguing that the village should reject the required resolution.

“I’m in no way suggesting that we refuse to pay state mandated labor rates, just a refusal of our support for antiquated, illlogical, unfunded mandates,” he said.

He concluded his statement by acknowledging that change would require legislative action, and he urged trustees to send a message to state representatives that change is needed.

The resolution passed by a vote of 5-0 with Heiferman abstaining.

Other local government agencies have recently passed prevailing wage resolutions. Boards for school districts 153 and 233 approved resolutions without comment, but two District 161 board members voted against the resolution.

In other business, trustees approved a $30,000 budget adjustment for the fire department to account for unforeseen maintenance for an ambulance and an engine.

Trustees also approved a resolution authorizing construction and maintenance work on state highway rights of way. The resolution allows village workers to perform work in state rights of way without posting a surety bond as required of other contractors.

Trustees approved an amendment to the village’s street ordinance that removes Martin Avenue between Ridge and Chestnut roads from the list of one-way streets. When the current streetscape project is complete, Martin Avenue will support two-way traffic on the north half of the block and will be closed to traffic on the south end. 

The next regular meeting of the board will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, in the board room of Village Hall, 2020 Chestnut Road.

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