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Franks reconvenes committee to explore reducing the County Board’ size

Post Date:05/11/2018 9:04 AM

WOODSTOCK, Ill. – A committee will discuss reducing the size of the McHenry County Board following the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census, board Chairman Jack Franks announced today.

Franks, D-Marengo, is reconvening the Ad Hoc Committee on Governmental Consolidation to explore reducing the County Board’s size from its current roster of 24 members. The committee will meet at 5 p.m. next Tuesday to debate the idea.

“McHenry County’s voters spoke loud and clear in a 2016 referendum that the County Board can do the job of representing the people with fewer members. I couldn’t agree with them more. The voters in that election also chose me as Chairman, and I, along with a sensible County Board majority, are going to move this forward,” Franks said.

County boards have an opportunity after each decennial U.S. Census to adjust their size. The McHenry County Board has stayed at 24 members since 1972, when voters were first empowered to directly elect their board members under the 1970 Illinois Constitution. It is the only collar-county board to not reduce its size since then.

After the 2010 U.S. Census, the county boards of Lake, Kane and Will counties reduced their sizes, but while the McHenry County Board briefly discussed the possibility, no plan advanced. The DuPage County Board shrunk in 2000 to comply with a state law limiting the size of boards in counties, other than Cook, with more than 800,000 people.

Seventy-seven percent of McHenry County’s voters supported a 2016 advisory referendum asking whether the County Board’s size should be reduced. It was spearheaded by former chairman Joe Gottemoller, who pointed out that the five-member Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors controls a budget larger than the budgets of 25 states. The original language of the referendum proposed cutting the size in half to 12 members.

“Successful businesses are always looking at how to improve the implementation of their services. This is a long-overdue discussion for the McHenry County Board to have,” committee member Chris Christensen, R-Cary, said.

The ad-hoc committee most recently heard testimony on abolishing the office of Recorder of Deeds, and recommended that it be put to the voters via binding referendum. Voters in the March primary overwhelmingly approved the idea, and the office will be merged with that of the County Clerk in 2020.

“The taxpayers told us to do more with less when it comes to the number of officials they have to elect. We heard what they have to say, and now it’s our duty to roll up our sleeves and come up with a plan,” Franks said.

The Ad-Hoc Committee on Governmental Consolidation consists of County Board members John Jung, R-Woodstock, Bob Nowak, R-Lake in the Hills, Kay Bates, R-McHenry, Mary McCann, R-Woodstock, Don Kopsell, R-Crystal Lake, Donna Kurtz, R-Crystal Lake, Mike Skala, R-Huntley, Christensen, Gottemoller and Chairman Franks.