MT. VERNON — Reluctantly and under protest, the Jefferson County Board approved a prevailing wage ordinance Monday.
The ordinance passed on a 6-3 vote with members Jim Laird, Jeff Williams and Robert White voting in opposition. Randy Edwards and Steve Draege abstained.
“It’s just another mandate from the State of Illinois telling us how to spend money,” said White. “They put you in a situation where you have to pass these things and I find it completely unfair and if they want it to be the law of the land they just need to pass it as a law and blanket it. Don’t involve us because we don’t have any authority to change it and why on earth should we be forced to vote on something that we have no say in.”
Prevailing wage ordinances are required for municipalities in which there are Public Works projects. Wage minimums are outlined in the ordinance.
“Unless we start holding people accountable nothing will change,” White argued. “In this regard, we are tasked with all the responsibility of what comes down from state statutes with very little authority. This is a clear example of that situation.”
During public input, James Robinson took issue with the Board taking funds from the Public Safety Tax to help offset expenses, noting the tax was set up in 2005 to help pay off jail bonds.
“You’re not trustworthy. If you’re going to take the money out anyway that you said you wouldn’t take out, how do we believe that you’re going to pay it back? I think you guys are just kicking the ball down the road to the next county board,” he said.
In response, White said the money was taken from the fund “out of necessity” and borrowing the money was not taken lightly. White said he and the Board is committed to paying the money back by the end of the fiscal year.