An email has arrived noting ten significant accomplishments of McHenry County government during 2010. It follows:
Dear McHenry County Resident,
This past year was a tough one for McHenry County, but we have confronted these difficult economic times and continue to move forward.
Below you will find 10 of our more notable accomplishments in 2010.
We look forward to the challenges we face in 2011 knowing that McHenry County government will continue to provide superior services for our residents and serves as a model for the sensible and effective management of County government.
On Behalf of the entire McHenry County Board, please let me wish you the best of luck in 2011. Have a Happy New Year!
Kenneth D. Koehler
County Board Chairman
10 Notable Accomplishments
1. Aaa Bond Rating
In April of 2010, McHenry County announced an improvement in its debt rating to Aaa by Moody’s Investors Service.
The Aaa rating is the highest rating available and this will allow McHenry County to issue debt at the lowest possible interest rate.
The County has proven itself to be among the top tier of local governments in terms of financial strength both in Illinois and nationally.
With the migration of Moody’s to the Global Ratings Scale (GSR) McHenry County was the only county of 102 counties in the State of Illinois to have its rating improved to a Aaa status, making it one of three counties in the State of Illinois sharing the status (DuPage and Lake Counties are also rated Aaa).
2. County Finances Remain Solid
The County has met the challenges presented by these difficult economic times. The McHenry County Board approved a budget for Fiscal Year 2011, which began on December 1, 2010.
The FY11 Budget is balanced and is approximately $6.9 million smaller than the FY10 Budget, which finished “in the black” this year.
In developing the FY11 Budget, McHenry County maintained a consistently conservative approach to budgeting and again built it on conservative revenue estimates. The County responded to the reduction in revenues with a corresponding reduction in expenses.
- In total, the County reduced its budget from $248,381,320 for FY10 to $242,507,244 for FY11.
- There were no dramatic cuts to services, but there are cuts in almost all areas of County Government.
- The County maintained its fund balance and has not had to utilize reserves to cover its expenses.
- There are now approximately 40 positions that are “frozen” in the FY11 or 40 fewer positions that were funded just two years ago in FY09.
- The County has moved forward with a plan to reduce contributions to a number of groups that have received financial assistance, but has been done so in a manner that will not be devastating to any of them.
3. Opening Bids on Rakow Road
In November, the Illinois Department of Transportation opened bids for the Rakow Road Reconstruction and Relocation project with $26.5 million being the low bid for the project.
Construction for this project is slated to commence in early 2011.
The project, which will add additional lanes throughout this vital east-west corridor connecting IL-31 to Randall Road, will span the 2011 and 2012 construction seasons.
This project’s success is the result of the cooperation and commitment we have received from multiple local governments, local agencies, and especially Congressman Don Manzullo through securing federal funds to assist with this project.
4. Valley Hi Operating Board
In July 2010, the Valley Hi Nursing Home Operating Board was created through County Board action to replace the Valley Hi Committee, a standing Committee of the County Board. The Operating Board will provide policy direction to Valley Hi Director Tom Annarella. The Board has been meeting monthly since July and has reporting success in its first few months of operation.
5. EECBG Facility Improvements
The County was awarded $2.5 million in November 2009 to increase energy efficiency throughout McHenry County Government facilities.
The EECBG program, funded by the America Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was designed to assist eligible entities to implement strategies to create jobs, reduce total energy use, and improve energy efficiency in county buildings.
Over the past year since receiving part of the grant monies, McHenry County has:
- Implemented part of the grant monies in its Division of Transportation (DOT) garage with the addition of skylights, lighting retrofits, and installation of light occupancy sensors;
- Installed 54 solar panels on the roof of the County Administration building in the month of December;
- Replaced sodium vapor parking lot lights and exterior wall fixtures of Government Center and Administration building with LED high efficiency lighting;
- Installed Daylight controls for public corridor lighting in the Government Center, Annex A, and the Administration building;
- Upgraded large motors on HVAC units with energy efficiency frequency drives; and
- Upgraded Windows in the Government Center.
For more information on McHenry County’s efforts, please visit the project website at http://www.mchenrycounty-eecbg.net./
6. Water Resources Program Continues to Progress
Following over two years of effort by the Groundwater Protection Task Force, the Water Resources Action Plan (WRAP) was completed in late 2009. In July of 2010, the technical editing of the WRAP was completed and progrsss continues with local governments accepting the WRAP.
There are now 13 McHenry County municipalities that have adopted the WRAP resolution and implementation is underway. Additional other municipalities are moving forward with implementation absent a resolution.
Further, McHenry County entered the third and final year of the 3-D geological mapping project with the Illinois State Geological Survey and second year of the Groundwater Flow Modeling project with the Illinois State Water Survey.
The County equipped 40 dedicated observation wells around the County with real-time water level equipment, to sample water quality in the wells, and to install two stream gauges.
In November, the Division of Water Resources and other County Departments developed and taught two Winter Snow and Ice Certification Workshops at McHenry County College to public and private winter snow operators.
7. Sheriff’s Office Accreditation
In August, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office received accreditation through the American Correctional Association (ACA) for the Sheriff’s Office Adult Correctional Facility.
The Sheriff’s Office joins an elite group of only four Illinois County Correctional facilities to be accredited (DuPage, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties). Achieving ACA accreditation is a direct credit to the professionalism and dedication of the entire staff at the McHenry County Sheriff’s Adult Correctional Facility.
In December, assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) concluded their on-site assessment of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office.
CALEA Accreditation provides a guarantee to the public that the Sheriff’s Office is operating according to the highest standards set in law enforcement.
The assessors will be filing a report with CALEA concerning the Sheriff’s Office’s ability to attain accreditation, which will be considered at their annual conference in March.
8. Planning and Development
The County Planning and Development Department had big success on three fronts this year.
- First, in October, Stormwater Management Ordinance improvements were adopted by the County Board and currently County staff is meeting with municipalities to discuss implementation.
- Second, the Unified Development Ordinance was approval by the County Board in November. The 22-month project is underway and will update and consolidate the County’s zoning, subdivision, sign and miscellaneous development regulations.
- Finally, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) staff met the CDBG drawdown ratio in advance of the October 31 its deadline set by the Federal Government. This will allow the County to receive its full entitlement of 2011 CDBG funds.
9. Building Remodeling
In January, the McHenry County Treasurer’s Office moved to its new location at 2100 N. Seminary Ave. The Regional Office of Education (ROE) moved into the office space vacated by the Treasurer’s Office and the Planning and Development – Community Development Division moved into the ROE’s former office space. Courtroom renovations are also underway in the Government Center to make way for two new judges in 2011. Finally, in October, the County broke ground on a new records storage facility. The Archives Building, located next to the Sheriff’s Evidence Garage in Hartland, is expected to be completed in March of 2011.
Over the past year, McHenry County has increased its efforts in becoming more transparent through the utilization of technology. The County has taken a number of steps to engage the public in social media forums and providing improved accessibility through the internet. The following projects demonstrate the ways in which the County’s has increased transparency in its functions:
Codification – The County has entered into a contract to codify all its ordinances and resolutions. This effort should be completed in the latter half of 2011. Once completed, County Ordinances will be available in both the traditional bound volumes and in a searchable electronic format available to everyone on-line.
Usage of Social Media- The usage of social media through Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and Nixle has allowed the County to expand its ability to distribute information to citizens.
- · The McHenry County Sheriff’s Department utilizes Nixle to distribute text message alerts to citizens who sign up on its website.
- · The McHenry County Department of Health heavily utilizes social media through Facebook and Twitter to distribute important public health messages.
- Youtube is a forum for videos County Departments may utilize to distribute information and link it back to their departmental website.
- Anytime the County distributes a press release, it is hyperlinked to its social media pages.
E-Newsletter- McHenry County now has over 1,200 subscribers to the McHenry County e-News. The development of the McHenry County e-News is the direct result of the County desiring to provide frequent communications to citizens about the activities of County Government.
Website Utilization- Many McHenry County Departments have increased their usage of their departmental website to provide information to the public.
- The McHenry County Department of Health posts the most current and available information to the public on its website, including timely information on beach closures, food recalls, illness outbreaks, etc.
- The McHenry County Purchasing Department posts information about how to do business with the County on the County website.
- The McHenry County Division of Transportation (MCDOT) maintains informational websites on current road projects, such as Walk-up, Randall, Fleming, and Alden Roads.
- Also, the new interactive map software allows for the MCDOT to display all the current County road projects occurring in McHenry County: http://gis.mchenrycountygis.org/constructionprojects/.
- MCDOT now uses their website to post all their consultant contracts online.
- The Geographic Information System (GIS) Department utilizes Athena, the public property search viewer that includes search capabilities for property boundaries information by a parcel number, address, or subdivision.
FOIA Requests- The McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office and Information Technology Department developed a new on-line McHenry County Freedom of Information Request Portal that includes Departmental FOIA Officers, online and downloadable FOIA requests forms, and on-line links to frequently requested information.
Transparency Page- The McHenry County Transparency page or “Information Access Portal” has been active since the beginning of 2010 and can be found at: http://www.co.mchenry.il.us/departments/transparency/Pages/index.aspx. The County began to utilize the “Information Access Portal” on its website that places frequently requested information in one easy to find location.
McHenry County Statement of Economic Interests Addendum – In November, the County Board adopted the McHenry County Statement of Economic Interest Addendum that requires County officials and office seekers to list economic interest they have in the County and with other local governments in McHenry County.