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Village of Wilmette President and Board of Trustees met November 27

Saturday, December 22, 2018
North Cook News
by Kristine Gonzales-Abella


Village of Wilmette President and Board of Trustees met November 27

Village of Wilmette President and Board of Trustees met Nov. 27.


6.21 Adoption of Ordinance #2018-O-85 repealing the Village Ordinances concerning Cook County Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinances.

Trustee Sullivan moved adoption of Ordinance #2018-O-85 repealing the Village Ordinances concerning Cook County Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinances, seconded by Trustee Pearce.

President Bielinski said he is recommending that the Village Board of Trustees adopt Ordinance #2018-O-85. Pursuant to his authority under Chapter 2, Section 2-2.5.4 of the Village Code, he has directed the Corporation Counsel and the Village Manager to place this Ordinance on the Village Board’s agenda for introduction on November 13, 2018, and for discussion and adoption on November 27, 2018.

This Ordinance will result in the Village “opting in” to the Cook County ordinances regarding minimum wage and mandatory paid sick leave. It will repeal the Village’s ordinances that “opted out” of the County’s paid sick leave requirements (Or. 2017-O-40) and conditionally opted into the County’s minimum wage requirements (Ord.2017-O- 36 & Ord. 2018-O-45).

On November 6, 2018, Wilmette residents overwhelmingly approved two countywide referenda relating to the County’s minimum wage and mandatory paid sick leave ordinances.

In an election with strong voter turnout, Wilmette voters approved the minimum wage referendum by a margin of 76% to 24%, and approved the paid sick leave referendum by a margin of 80% to 20%.

President Bielinski noted that if you look at the precinct level data that every precinct supported both questions by at least a margin of 65 % to 35%.In 2017, when the Village Board joined more than 100 other suburban Cook County municipalities in “opting out” of Cook County’s 2016 minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinances before they took effect, Cook County had not studied or solicited information on the potential impact of their ordinances on suburban communities. Moreover, two referenda relied upon for the Cook County ordinances dated back to 2014 and 2016, called for statewide action, and in the case of minimum wage, differed in substance:

When the Village Board acted to preserve the status quo by opting out of the Cook County ordinances in 2017, the Village Board also committed to a comprehensive review of the subject. The Village Board appointed a “Working Group” of highly qualified individuals to conduct a thorough and thoughtful review of the County ordinances and how they might affect Wilmette. After receiving this report, the Village Board modified its position in June 2018 to “opt in” to the Cook County minimum wage requirements effective October 1, 2018, subject to certain conditions. Thanks to the extensive public discussion of this subject in Wilmette during 2017 and 2018, and the comprehensive report of the Working Group, Wilmette residents are better informed and engaged on this issue than anywhere else in Cook County. The November 6 referenda correctly and accurately reflected the County’s ordinances and were both approved overwhelmingly by Wilmette voters.

Therefore, I believe that the Village Board should implement the results of the referenda and fully “opt in” to both County ordinances. I believe that this should be done promptly, mindful of the need to provide notice to our business community. I believe that the Village’s thorough and thoughtful review of this subject for the past two years obviates the need for additional examination and that we should implement the results of the November referenda expeditiously.

President Bielinski noted that in a letter addressed to the Village Board, the Wilmette/Kenilworth Chamber of Commerce expressed concern regarding the proposed January 1, 2019 effective date for the paid sick leave portion of the ordinance. For many businesses, the holiday season is their peak season, and a very hectic time of year and the Chamber requested an effective date of June 30, 2019. A number of Trustees have also expressed concern to him regarding the effective date and he believes these are reasonable concerns.

As such, President Bielinski is proposing an amendment to the motion, which would allow for 90 days’ notice to the business community, March 1, 2019 is his proposed effective date for the proposed sick leave portion of theordinance. As he mentioned previously, an effective date is not relevant to the minimum wage portion of this ordinance since theCounty’s minimum wage already applies within the Village,

President Bielinski asked if the amendment of the effective date of March 1, 2019 to the paid sick leave ordinance was acceptable to Trustee Sullivan who made the motion and Trustee Pearce who seconded the motion.

Trustees Sullivan and Pearce said the amendment to the ordinance was acceptable to their motion.

President Bielinski said the motion on the table is amended to have a March 1, 2019 effective date for the sick leave portion of the ordinance.

President Bielinski said the meeting was open for public comment.

President Bielinski asked those present to register their support for or against the Village to opt in to the Cook County Ordinance. He noted there were 17 people present for opting in to the ordinance and 5 people present against opting in to the ordinance.

Reverend C. J. Hawking, Executive Director for Arise Chicago thanked everyone for advocating and supporting the proposed ordinance.

Lucky Gorman, 322 Wilshire Drive, said he supported opting in to the proposed ordinance.

Julie Yusim, Executive Director of the Wilmette/Kenilworth Chamber of Commerce thanked the Village Board for the proposed amendment to the ordinance. They are also proposing that instead of the new ordinance, the Village keep Section 2 D and 2 E of Ordinance 2018-O-45 intact. This would allow Wilmette to observe the hourly wage in the Cook County Ordinance while preserving the business protections that were there. It would also allow the Village of Wilmette to defer to State of Illinois legislation even if Cook County refuses to defer to new State minimum wage law. It would also allow the Village of Wilmette to protect businesses from the CPI increases imbedded in the Cook County Ordinance which may not be included in State minimum wage law.

Beth Feely said she is a resident of Wilmette and wonders why the Village Board changed their decision regarding the proposed decision. She would prefer the Village opt out of both the Cook County Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinances.

Betsy Hart said she is representing New Trier Neighbors and they wonder why the Village Board changed their decision regarding the Cook County Ordinances. They believe adopting the ordinances will have a devastating impact on Wilmette businesses.

Mark Weyermuller, 208 Lawndale, said he is concerned about the effect the proposed ordinances will have on Wilmette businesses. He is also concerned about property taxes, pensions and property values.

Gina Kennedy, 2136 Beechwood, said the results of the November 2018 show that a substantial majority of the residents of Wilmette support the unconditional adoption of both the proposed Cook County Ordinances. She believes the proposed amendment to the ordinance is probably prudent. She strongly urged the Village Board to opt in to the Cook County Ordinances.

Jon Marshall, 822 Prairie, said he strongly supports opting in to both Cook County Ordinances as proposed.

Paul Dauer said he believes there should be amendments to both ordinances because he believes the majority of voters forcing other people to pay the difference between the actual wage and the prescribed wage and actual policy and the sick leave policy is not proper.

John Haser, 518 Greenleaf, said he is a resident and business owner. He wonders what changed the proposed decision of the Village Board other than the November 2018 election results. He believes the proposed ordinances will affect the small businesses in Wilmette and does not believe they will be able to hire more employees or provide additional services. He urged the Village Board not to opt in to the Cook County Ordinances.

President Bielinski asked if the Village Board had any questions for Corporation Counsel regarding the proposed ordinances.

Trustee Pearce said if the Village Board opts in to the Cook County Ordinances and the State Law changes the minimum wage, what would that mean to the Village.

Corporation Counsel Jeffrey Stein said if the Village opts in to the Cook County Ordinances, the Village is subject to the Cook County Ordinances and Cook County’s enforcement. If the State enacts a higher minimum wage that would essentially control the minimum wage. If the State acts on minimum wage and puts in a Home Rule Pre-emption, the County Ordinance by law would be nullified and the State Act would then essentially control.

Trustee Dodd asked what would happen if the State enacts a paid sick leave ordinance.

Mr. Stein said the Cook County Ordinance on paid sick leave is silent as to being automatically nullified, however if the State does change the amount of hours, they could choose what avenue to enforce. If the State Act has the Home Rule Pre-emption, the County’s sick Leave Ordinance would be nullified.

President Bielinski asked if it is correct that the Village has to opt in or not opt in to the Cook County Ordinances, and does not have the authority to change the ordinances.

Mr. Stein said it is correct that the Village does not have the authority to change the Cook County Ordinances.

President Bielinski noted that the issue has been in front of the Village Board multiple times over the past few years. Each member of the Village Board has previously commented at length on the topic at multiple meetings. The only thing that has changed since the last consideration of the issue is the November 6, 2018 election. He asked the Village Board if there was any discussion on the matter.

Trustee Kurzman thanked everyone for their ongoing opinions as the Village Board has worked through the process. He believes

tonight’s action is both necessary and overdue. We are now in the second holiday season since the ordinances first came to the Board and he pauses to reflect about the several thousands of dollars that the workers could have earned for their families and spent in our local economy if we had acted sooner. He also contemplates the six and a half sick days they could have used. He congratulates his colleagues on keeping an open mind to public opinion and the information provided by the Work Group. When he reflects back on the process, he has one reservation. We invited minimum wage workers to participate every step of the way and they did not. He believes we had only the best of intentions with this outreach but it did not work. We did not get much engagement from the people who would most benefit from these ordinances and he believes there are many legitimate reasons why they did not participate. He does not pass judgement about their absence but it did lead him to a deeper thought, that he does not want any resident to feel disempowered, unrepresented or alienated from the Village of Wilmette, as we have the ability to care for all residents. He would like the low wage workers to know that they have a friend at Village Hall as he believes all working people regardless of their income level should feel welcome in the Village of Wilmette and their contributions to our community should be appreciated and that is why he believes the ordinances are necessary and overdue. He will try to deal with the amendment to the ordinance in a thoughtful manner.

Voting yes on the amended motion: Trustees Wolf, Sullivan, Plunkett, Dodd, Kurzman, Pearce and President Bielinski. Voting no: none. The motion carried.

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