Woodstock Rejects Crony Capitalism Ordinance

thOn June 3, the Woodstock City Council voted 4-2 to reject a prevailing wage ordinance. Unfortunately, it’s a hollow gesture, as described in this week’s Woodstock Independent:

“Illinois’ Prevailing Wage Act requires municipalities and other taxing bodies to ensure contracted workers — generally used for public works projects — are paid at a rate set by the Illinois Department of Labor. Rates vary by county and usually are based on union wages. Under law, the city is required to adopt a local ordinance verifying the prevailing wage rates paid on those projects. The ordinance applies to all contractors hired by the city for public improvement projects, but it does not apply to city employees or service contracts that do not include construction, with some exceptions.”

According to an attorney for the Illinois Department of Labor, if the ordinance isn’t passed by June 30, the Department will pass one on its behalf.

Councilwoman Maureen Larson said:

“The taxpayers should be absolutely outraged by this, but it is so hard to get a handle on the fact that we don’t have a choice on voting for it,” she said. “It is absolutely shrouded in mystery, purposefully, in order for this to continue, but the public needs to know that this is just unacceptable.”

Rates vary by county, but they are usually based on union wages.

Prevailing wage laws are nothing more than crony capitalism being practiced by organized labor. The power that unions hold over the Illinois legislature is never so apparent as when a municipality or county is reduced to nothing more than a rubber-stamp.

These laws also serve the interests of large companies that get the overwhelming number of public works contracts throughout the state by acting as a barrier to entry for smaller companies. A guy with a truck and a backhoe and a couple of employees trying to make his living can’t compete when he has to bid on the basis of wage rates set by government. They’re shut out of the process.

The Council will re-visit the issue in its June 17 meeting, and even though it’s a futile gesture, they should tell the state: You’re going to have to impose this upon us, we won’t give you cover by pretending that we agree with it. Stick to your guns, guys.

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5 Responses to Woodstock Rejects Crony Capitalism Ordinance

  1. Susan says:

    The simple, logical solution is for the City of Woodstock to cease all projects subject to prevailing wage which renders the projects unaffordable.
    Stop spending public money on prevailing wage projects. If all municipalities follow suit, policy change will be initiated from the other side once they start to get hungry for work.

    Woodstock City Property Tax rate of .66% of total home value (1.99% of EAV) is the highest by far in the County.
    Total property tax rate to live in Woodstock: 4.6% of total home value (13.93% of EAV).
    The national average total property tax rate is around 1.5% of total home value.
    And as home values relentlessly plummet as a function of that tax rate, homes across America have enjoyed rising values. So even if one can sell a home here, very little is affordable elsewhere by comparison.

    There is no justification for any public project in Woodstock in this state of crisis. People can live with weeds and uneven cobblestones and non-copper domes, they cannot live with 4.6% property taxes.
    Then there are the irrational tif money giveaways even while Woodstock real estate values plummet and tax extensions grind higher annually. Tif money spending is as destructive as spending 130% of fair value on public works projects due to PW.

    This professed indignation about PW sounds phony to me. If Woodstock managers were motivated by citizens’ best interests, the managers would slash PW-related spending and tear down that tif.

  2. rooney2015 says:

    McHenry county Board voted down the prevailing wage this year. Cary School District did the same last year. On the Johnsburg Schoolboard, (2014 vote) I made known the recent County Board decision,mine was the only no vote. One of the progressives on the board (Oeffling) said….and this is indicative of their thought process…. “Don’t you want the people in our community to make good money?” It’s the mentality that a small, local government entity can single-handedly rescue our poor economy, and if we all pull together as a team, it will work.
    If you dissent…watch out. My response, “I don’t want the good people of our community to pay artificially high wages for services.” Right over their head…
    they never understand that someone has to pay for it.

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