This article was published late Friday. I am putting it back on top because it represents the most audacious grab for virtually absolute power in county government that I can imagine. He could only make himself more powerful by having all countywide elected officials report to him directly and abolishing the County Board.
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McHenry County, from a structural viewpoint, has a weak County Board Chairman.
Under House Bill 3317, sponsored by State Rep. David McSweeney, that would change drastically.
Jack Franks would become the most powerful County Board Chairman outside of Cook County.
Here is how the Legislative Reference Bureau, the legislature’s bill drafting agency summarizes the proposal:
Creates the McHenry County Equitable Standards and Governmental Efficiency Law in the Counties Code.
- Allows the county board to require the election of specified special district trustees that it appoints. [Seems to apply to Conservation District, Mental Health Board, TB Board, Board of Health, Fire Protection District]
- Allows the county board chairperson to:
- eliminate advisory committees or commissions;
- create standing committees and appoint members;
- set county board or committee meeting agendas;
- have line-item veto powers; and
- hire independent legal counsel or a parliamentarian or both;
- approve all appropriation expenditures before they are paid;
- reduce or divert moneys from a county fund with assets exceeding 150% of the previous year’s expenditures on a ratable basis to taxpayers.
- Allows the county board to appoint an inspector general to investigate waste, fraud, and abuse.
- Provides that, on the effective date of the amendatory Act, the elected chairperson of the county board is a county office distinct from the county board.
- Terminates the office of county recorder and the office of the county auditor.
Amends the Local Government Reduction and Efficiency Division of the Counties Code.
Provides that a county board may prohibit or limit a unit of local government that it has proposed to consolidate from starting a capital program, building project, or land acquisition for a set period of time, not to exceed 2 years, while the county board pursues possible consolidation.
Not in the summary above are proposed requirements that
- the Chairman may reduce or line item any appropriation [same power the Governor has]
- the County Board may not reduce the powers of the County Board Chairman except by a three-fourths vote
- the Chairman will have a line item veto which can only be overridden by a three-fifths vote of the County Board
- the Chairman may hire his own legal counsel and/or parliamentarian to be financed by county funds, such county funds to be obtained from elsewhere in the budget at the Chairmen’s discretion
- the office of Chairman is given equal status with other officials elected countywide
- the County Board shall provide adequate funding for the chairperson to have the resources and staff required to fulfill his or her duties.
- the County Board may not reclassify employees in the chairperson’s office or transfer employees out of the chairperson’s office without the chairperson’s permission
- health insurance for County Board members is abolished and the amount saved can be transferred to the Chairman’s budget
- Chairman has to approve all county expenditures [now a function of the independentally elected County Auditor]
- ratable tax rebates allowed at the Chairman’s discretion from any fund that has more than 150% of what was spent the year before