McHENRY COUNTY— State Representatives Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) and Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa) want McHenry County residents to send a clear message to Springfield politicians who want to significantly alter the power and financial structure of the McHenry County Board.
Weber and Reick, whose districts together cover the majority of McHenry County, have posted a joint petition to gather signatures from those who oppose changing the current structure of the McHenry County Board to a County Executive style of government. Click here to sign the petition.
“In 2012, the voters of McHenry County resoundingly opposed a referendum that would have changed the county’s government structure to a County Executive form of government,” said Reick, whose entire 63rd District would be affected by the bill. “Despite a rejection of a referendum in 2012 by a 2:1 margin, there are some Springfield politicians who want to disregard that public mandate and make those changes anyway. Their bill would significantly increase the powers of the McHenry County Board Chair and greatly reduce the powers currently granted to rank-and-file county board members. It’s a power-grab, pure and simple.”
HB 3317 would completely reorganize McHenry County’s current government structure, and give the County Board Chair broad, new, expansive powers at the expense of the elected members of the County Board. New powers provided through HB 3317 would include:
* Veto power over County Board decisions;
* Creation of a separate budget for the Chair’s own legal staff, other staff, and resources;
* Authority to set the county budget;
* Sole authority over the release of appropriations;
* Authority to spend money without full board approval;
* Authority to single-handedly create committees/commissions and appoint members;
* Authority to replace the current county auditor position with a private firm of the Chair’s choosing.
“As Representative Reick pointed out, McHenry County voters made their feelings quite clear in 2012 when they overwhelmingly rejected the referendum to reorganize the county’s government,” said Weber. Half of his 64th District covers McHenry County from Lakewood and Crystal Lake all the way up to Spring Grove on the Wisconsin border. “Doesn’t that result matter? If the motives behind HB 3317 are about what is in the best interests of taxpayers, then bring the question back to the residents of McHenry County for another vote.”
According to Reick, the initiative was brought forward on behalf of McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks. “Chairman Franks lobbied hard for the passage of the County Executive referendum in 2012,” Reick said. “Voters rejected his plan for consolidated power, and it appears that now he wants to sidestep the county residents’ wishes and create his fiefdom through the Illinois legislature. This bill is an end-around to circumvent the clear will of the people of McHenry County.”
Weber concluded by saying, “If there is a restrictive aspect of state law that prevents local government from operating in the best interests of local taxpayers, then yes, the General Assembly should look at changing the law. That’s not the case here, McHenry County and the voters have the power to change their government structure without the state stepping in to micromanage the process. HB 3317 is simply bad public policy.”