Present: Working group members George Rafeedie (President and Founder, CoWorkers LLC ), Therese Steinken (Former Director of Development, Family Service Center), John Haser (Director of Administration and Marketing, Anne Kustner Lighting Design), Beth Lambrecht (owner, Lambrecht Jewelers), John Jacoby (Chair, Former Village President), Laura Saleh (medical practice owner and Chamber of Commerce director), Brian Fabes (CEO, Civic Consulting Alliance) Village staff: Michael Braiman (Assistant Village Manager) And John Prejzner (Assistant Director of Administrative Services)
I. The meeting was call to order shortly after 7:00 p.m. Members of the group introduced themselves and stated why they volunteered: Chairman Jacoby said he was selected as a former Village President. Four members are owners or employees of local businesses; with two stating they represent the business community. One member offers professional experience consulting with municipalities and the other has been actively involved in local government issues for many years including extensive work on League of Women Voters’ studies. In addition, two village staff are members of the group.
Chairman Jacoby then stated the group’s purpose: to study how Cook County minimum wage and earned sick time ordinances might affect village businesses, employers and their employees, and the village's overall economy. Further, the committee is only charged with providing information to the Finance Committee, not making a recommendation. The initial goal is to conduct the work in three meetings. This timeline allows the finance committee to expeditiously provide information for the trustees further consideration of the ordinances prior to the next annual minimum wage increase mandated for communities enacting them. He reminded group members to set aside their personal views on the ordinances during their work.
II. Six community members spoke during the Public Comment period.
● The group was encouraged to consider: (1) Information sources beyond those listed in the meeting packet including sick leave data from the public health community, businesses license and sales tax data from neighboring communities, data from agencies representing struggling residents such as the township, and academic experts. (2) Data collection methodologies including the reliability of phone surveys, relevant (vs. determinant) national studies, and avoiding questions that ask respondents to speculate about the future. (3) Not only public health, but public safety issues related to sick leave such as a school bus driver who transports children while sick, and (4) Savings businesses may realize under the new federal tax law. Chairman Jacoby asked a commenter, who is a tax attorney, to provide the group with more information about businesses under the new tax code.
● Two residents expressed concern about the opt-out being reversed: Businesses could be hurt by employees pretending to be sick to take advantage of leave and the burden of paperwork. Businesses should be able to determine wages based on merit not the minimum wage laws.
III. Chairman Jacoby reviewed the public meetings act. No more than two working group members can discuss official business without a quorum. Village policy is to avoid email discussion of official business.
IV. The group then moved to discussing potential information to collect for the finance committee’s review. Audience members were able to comment and ask questions. Discussion centered around how to represent different types of businesses, what information the Village collects about businesses, what demographic data about minimum wage workers should be collected, and how business data from other communities might be translated to Wilmette. Village staff members expressed concern about using research or studies conducted nationally or by other communities because of potential bias, conflicting results and differences form the Wilmette business environment. For these reasons, local surveys are an important measure of the ordinance’s impact. Audience members reminded the group that because the ordinances were not enacted in Wilmette, there are no quantitative measures of the impact on village constituencies. Local surveys can therefore only collect speculative and anecdotal information. Some members of the working group, as well as some audience members, pointed out that there are ways for non-local studies and quantitative data from other communities can be effectively used to inform local decisions.
At the end of the discussion, the group concluded that they need to further consider what questions should be asked to guide decision making about sources of information. Because the discussion largely covered minimum wage, sick leave will be considered at the next meeting.
V. Chairman Jacoby identified the following action items:
a. Group members will submit to the Assistant Village Manager a list of questions that they think the working group should try to answer. The community is also invited to submit questions.
b. Village staff will compile the list of the questions for consideration at the next meeting.
c. At the next meeting, the group will redevelop/finalize the information sources based on the above list of questions. The Village has engaged a market research consultant to ensure that any survey questions are correctly phrased without bias. Village staff hope to have the group work with the research consultant to being phrasing questions at the next meeting.