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Cook County Prevailing Wage Advisory Task Force

SSMMA President and Hazel Crest Village Board President Vernard Alsberry

The Prevailing Wage Advisory Task Force, created by the Cook County Board following mass opposition to Ordinance 18-1604–the Prevailing Wage and Apprenticeship Amendment to the Tax Incentive program — met twice this summer with no result. Task Force members were expected to meet and discuss ways to mitigate the negative impacts of the Prevailing Wage Ordinance which goes into effect tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 1).

Last week SSMMA President Vernard Alsberry, a member of the Task Force representing SSMMA, expressed in a letter to south suburban commissioners and President Preckwinkle’s representative to the Prevailing Wage Advisory Task Force his severe disappointment with the lack of meaningful, substantial consideration of ways to address the unintended consequences of the Prevailing Wage Amendment, now codified in the Property Tax Incentive Ordinance. The letter was disseminated to all County Board members along with the SSMMA handout that was distributed at the second Task Force meeting showcasing the significant challenges of the South Suburbs.

In his letter, President Alsberry states:

“With the conclusion of the Cook County Prevailing Wage Advisory Task Force, I want to convey to you our collective disappointment with what we believed was going to be a good faith effort to mitigate the unintended consequences of the Prevailing Wage Amendment.

As you know, we are deeply distressed by a single interest group’s ability to impose regressive policies on SSMMA’s 38 Cook County communities representing upwards of 550,000 residents and over 177 square miles of territory within the County. Our expectation was that the Task Force would consider and evaluate a range of feasible alternatives that could stem the negative impacts on our communities—as it was charged to do. Our conclusion at this time is that it has failed to deliver.” Read more.

The data and President Alsberry’s presentation on the County’s “perfect tax storm” and its devastating effect on the South Suburbs during the Advisory Task Force meeting attracted the interest of Tribune reporter Hal Dardick. Dardick conducted his own research and toured the south suburbs with several mayors and municipal representatives mid-August, writing a story that exposes the impact of poorly considered tax policies on the south suburbs. Read the story here.  Tribune /Daily Southtown Columnist Ted Slowik wrote a related story today entitled “New prevailing wage rules take effect Saturday. One group deserves blame if business costs rise and blight worsens.” Click here to read it.

Prevailing Wage Advisory Task members include SSMMA President and Hazel Crest Mayor Vernard Alsberry, representing SSMMA; SSMMA member Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau, representing the Southwest Conference of Mayors; Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau President/CEO Jim Garrett is also a member. Click here for a complete list of the task force members.

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