La Salle union employees to get raises

City seeks water loans but will fix problem water tower regardless

La Salle City Hall

La Salle’s union employees are getting raises.

Monday, the La Salle City Council voted 7-0 (Alderman Boo Herndon was absent) to a series of agreements with AFSCME, the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, Paramedic Services of Illinois, Inc. and La Salle Professional Firefighters Local Number 4760, among others.

While there were specific language and scheduling changes with individual groups, Finance Director John Duncan IV said the upshot is the city broadly agreed to wage increases with the respective unions.

“We had to do some market adjustments the first year that averaged out to about 4% across the board,” Duncan said. “In the second year, we agreed to 2% with all the unions. (In) the third year, 3% and the fourth year varied anywhere between 2(%) and 3(%) based upon other variables.”

“I think we’ve got a good working agreement,” Alderman Diz Demes said approvingly.

Separately, the council is looking to borrow funds for water work but Mayor Jeff Grove assured city residents the issue at the Cannon water tower will be fixed regardless.

As previously reported, advisories were issued about a mechanical problem in the east-end water tower that elevated levels of a known carcinogen. The risk, however, stems from long-term consumption and the problem isn’t citywide even though every resident got a notice.

The council unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing the city to borrow funds from the Illinois Public Water Supply Loan program. Grove said fixing the Cannon tower is not contingent on getting loans.

Also, the council finalized a plan to reduce the speed limit on its portion of Richard Hallett Road (the Utica shortcut) from 45 mph to 30 mph. La Salle maintains a portion of the road and Utica and Monday’s action makes its speed limit consistent with Utica’s.

Next: The council will take up the question of whether to prohibit trucks, which are expected to bypass the forthcoming construction of a roundabout at nearby U.S. 6 and Route 178. That question will be taken up in committee.

Finally, the council agreed, by informal vote, to allot space at Millennium Park to the Perfectly Flawed Foundation for establishment of a pollinator or community garden.

Luke Tomsha, founder of Perfectly Flawed, expressed an interest in expanding community projects as part of the foundation’s mission to providing alternatives to substance abuse. The need is urgent: La Salle County reported a 44% in overdose deaths between 2020 and 2021.

“La Salle County has one of the highest OD death rates in the state,” Tomsha told the council in an update on the foundation’s activities. “Our goal is to reverse those trends.”