Serwatka Reports on Lakewood Village Board Meeting

Newly-elected Lakewood Village Trustee Paul Serwatka continues his practice of sending emails to constituents about what goes on at village board meetings.

Here is his latest explanation:

Paul Serwatka

Paul Serwatka

On June 23rd, the Lakewood Village Board held its regularly scheduled meeting. Three items were on the agenda for discussion and vote.

The first agenda item was an ordinance to adopt Prevailing Wage Requirements for the Village of Lakewood. This became a rather lengthy (and at times a bit heated) discussion. (I will try to be as brief as possible here.)

~ Essentially, the prevailing wage law requires all contractors and subcontractors for works built by any public body with public funds to be paid the hourly rate set by the Illinois Department of Labor for that county. Imposing these wages greatly inhibits competitive bidding and typically drives village project costs up exorbitantly which takes money right out of the pockets of the taxpayers. And we’re not talking “chump-change,” here!

Now, whether or not a municipality decides to adopt this ordinance, they are still forced to abide by it. But, many people – myself included – believe that there is no reason for us to support it or give it our “stamp of approval” by voting yes to adopt it.

Woodstock City Council recently voted against adopting this ordinance and I believe they should be applauded for the courage they showed in taking a principled stand. ~

President [Erin] Smith opened the discussion by essentially stating that, while she may not agree with the ordinance – and while she may not like the ordinance – she believes we are somehow legally obligated to vote “YES” to adopt the ordinance. Next, Village Manager, Catherine Peterson echoed President Smith’s sentiments contending that we have no choice but to vote “YES”.

Each trustee then made brief comments, essentially saying how unfortunate it is that “our hands are tied” and we are forced to vote “YES”.

My contention was conveyed as follows:

I do not believe the state has the right or the power to direct us on how we, as elected trustees, are to vote on ANY matter. They simply cannot legislate how we are to vote.

That being said, I stated that I would be voting NO on adopting this ordinance and I challenged each of them to join me in doing so.

I went on to state:

I am, and will always be, an advocate for:

    • Small/limited government
    • Free/Competitive Markets
    • Minimizing Tax Burdens
    • Pro – Business minded legislation

The Prevailing Wage Act is the absolute antithesis of all of these.

You simply cannot stand for small government, free/competitive markets and a pro-business environment and then vote to support the Prevailing Age Act. They are in direct contradiction to one another.

And to be clear, this does mean that I am [in the original email Serwatka left out the word “not,” as in “not anti-union.  Saturday he sent out a correction.] “anti-union”. Nothing could be further from the truth.  I am a 16-year union worker, including my years as a Union Carpenter and a union Firefighter/Paramedic.

I advocate for every worker’s right to voluntarily bargain collectively with his/her employer just as I advocate for any worker’s right to opt-out of collective bargaining and bargain with their employer independently, should he/she so choose.


The Prevailing Wage Act is nothing more than Crony Capitalism – Pure and Simple!

This is Upper Union Echelon in collusion with government to derail competitive bidding by other businesses! It is big government encouraging monopolies and it is a glowing example of the kind of bad politics that has gotten Illinois into the mess that it is in and that is causing our taxes to go through the roof!

If we are to abide by this act and pay these exorbitant wages, be it by consent or by conquest, then I say let it be by conquest. But we should not be complicit. We should not give our “stamp of approval” by voting to adopt an ordinance that we know is wrong.
President Smith then stated that she feared we could be putting the village at risk of being sued by the state by not adopting this ordinance. I disagreed and stated that I have never heard of, nor do I believe there to be, any such risk.

The discussion was then deferred to village attorney, Michael Smoron, who stated:“I am inclined to agree with Mr. Serwatka. I do not believe that risk of litigation by the state is a factor here.”

The discussion continued with new speculations being made that our Village could possibly fall out of favor with the state and risk losing grant money for future projects if we do not vote to adopt this ordinance. All of these speculations, it was admitted, were completely unfounded, but nonetheless, the ordinance was then voted on and approved by a 4 to 2 vote.

Voting YES were Trustees [Gene] Furey, [Bev] Thomas, [Jeff] Iden and [Carl] Davis.

Voting NO were trustees Serwatka and [Ken] Santowski.

The second agenda item was to approve a work order for a, previously budgeted for, conversion/update of the Village’s water distribution system at a cost of $8900. This work order was unanimously voted in the affirmative.

The last agenda item was a resolution to allow village employees to work on State maintained right-of-ways without the village having to obtain a surety bond. This was just a formality. This was voted unanimously in the affirmative.

Attached, you will find the board packet, as it was provided, with all supporting documents. The three aforementioned ordinance documents can be found on pages 73, 83 and 88 respectively.

As always, your thoughts questions and concerns are always welcome.
Serwatka salutation


Serwatka Reports on Lakewood Village Board Meeting — 7 Comments

  1. Prevailing wage began after the Civil War when they passed the national 8 hour work day.

    Republicans and business democrats are trying to ruin this and pensions because they basically want cheap labor at any cost.

    Unions have declined and a lot of inequity in wages from cuts all to give big businesses more and more tax breaks.

    You can see all the help wanted signs in McHenry because people don’t want minimum wage they want a living wage.

    Wages have been stagnant for most but costs of food, housing, taxes, etc has risen leaving greater income inequality which is subsidized by taxpayers.

    Let businesses treat employees to a living wage and benefits and if they can’t let them go out of business.

  2. “Prevailing” wage is bunk.

    Wages in this part of the state can be less because we have fewer services and such to support out here.

    We all made a decision to live out here and many chose to live out here because of the (somewhat) lower cost of living and thus accept fewer services in exchange.

    You can’t just decide to pay someone a ‘living wage’ when they don’t provide enough value for that to make sense to the consumer.

    Entry level,”no experience needed” jobs exist for those with little value to add.

    If the world decides that EVERYONE should get a living wage regardless of their value contribution, you will have businesses (and industries) disappear.

    Do you want to pay $15 for hamburger?

    Do you want to pay $5 for gas?

    I run a business that runs on people.

    If I pay them $10/hour (for easy math) then my loaded cost of goods is about $16.

    If I raise their wage to $15/hr, my COGS doesn’t go up $5, it goes up to $24.

    I haven’t even paid for over head or my wage yet.

    Our business would be no more and my employees would likely be unemployed.

  3. Karma, Prevailing Wage has nothing to do with minimum wage.

    And be careful what you wish for- minimum wage workers WILL be replaced by auto-order takers and those entry level jobs will go bye bye.

    You want a ‘living wage’ then work for it.

    Entry level jobs were never meant to provide a ‘living’.

    Prevailing Wage is about competitive bids.

    We the Taxpayers of Mchenry County deserve to have competitive bids and not have to pay Cook County Chicagoland wages for the same work.

    We live in bum-diddley IL if you haven’t noticed!

  4. There’s a lot of State control in Illinois at the expense of local control.

    And where there is local control, the most powerful influence of elected politicians including boards is unions, both public sector and private sector.

    The second half of 2015 will open some more eyes.

    2016 will open even more eyes.

    The effects of unorganized taxpayers at large the expense of organized special interest groups will become more pronounced.

  5. Local control requires small accessible government.

    The push in Illinois is to merge and consolidate towns, villages, townships, and school districts into larger and larger units, all to make it less and less possible for the individual voter to have an impact and a voice.

    They’ll take our rights in the name of ‘efficiency’, then once it’s done they’ll send our tax dollars into ‘economically challenged communities’ in the name of ‘fairness’ and ‘equality’.

    And, of course, ‘diversity’ –

  6. advocate for:

    Small/limited government

    Free/Competitive Markets

    Minimizing Tax Burdens

    Pro – Business minded legislation

    Sounds great!

    ‘Experienced Candidates’ say this and yet their voting records prove just the opposite.

    That should shed light on the fact that ‘experience’ doesn’t mean anything in Politics. We should go for the fighter.

    If the fighter loses the fight within him/her, then they should be replaced or voted out eventually.

  7. This is appalling!

    Wisconsin is moving to eliminate prevailing wage & our little village is voting it in!

    These people are IDIOTS!

    Now every single public works project done in Lakewood will cost much more than necessary.

    There will be no competitive bidding & smaller non-union contractors will be unable to compete.

    All the development in their precious TIF will cost extra $$$$!

    Soon no one will want to live anywhere near Lakewood because the taxes are out of control.

    All the Lakewood property owners associations need to send representatives to these meetings.

    More residents need to know what is going on in Lakewood government.

    Thank you Lakewood Village Board for wasting more of our money.

    I commend the 2 courageous board members for voting NO!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *