The Winnebago County Board, unlike the McHenry County Board, has taken steps to limit the power of its countywide-elected Chairman.
McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks has the exact statutory powers as the Winnebago County Chairman.
Below is part of the March 18, 2020, Federal Court’s decision on the Winnebago County Chairman’s complaint. The request for an injunction to prevent enforcement of the ordinances was denied.
[Frank] Haney further claimed that his reform efforts have been thwarted by the Board’s passage of ordinances during his term that have curtailed the authority of and powers of the Chairman position.  ¶ 15. Specifically:
1. Ordinance 2017-CO-067 provides that the Chairman cannot terminate the County Administrator or Chief Financial Officer without Board approval. Prior to this ordinance, the Chairman possessed sole authority regarding the employment status of these positions.Id. ¶ 16.
2. Ordinance 2017-CO-110 removed the requirement that the County Administrator must reside within the County; it also allows the County Administrator to appoint his or her designee to assist in supervising County departments, rather than the Chairman.Id.
3. Ordinance 2018-CO-075 shifted numerous duties from Chairman to County Administrator, including appointing and dismissing department heads, union negotiations, and other financial duties.Id.
4. Ordinance 2019-CO-005 strips the Chairman of his authority and power to supervise, direct, and control the County Administrator, instead placing such authority with the Board. Haney alleges that it also removed the Chairman’s ability to assign other duties to the County Administrator.Id.
5. Finally, Ordinance 2019-CO-040 removes the Chairman’s executive authority to, among other things, fire the County Administrator, recommend a budget,participate in short-term planning, and negotiate any economic or other operational agreements.Id.