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County Board to vote Thursday on new committees

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Board will vote Thursday to approve a new committee structure reflecting its large number of new members.

The structure up for approval makes significant changes to the membership of standing committees, in which much of the board’s work gets done. Nine new members – the largest freshman class in at least 20 years – were sworn in last month. All 24 seats on the County Board were up for election because of redistricting after the 2010 U.S. Census.

Besides new blood, new leadership is playing a factor in the shakeup – the new County Board replaced four-term Chairman Ken Koehler, R-Crystal Lake, with new Chairwoman Tina Hill, R-Woodstock. The chairman after each election appoints a Committee on Committees to adjust memberships.

The County Board has the final say on committee memberships. Although it likely would not make major changes on the board floor the day of the vote, members could recommend minor tweaks. One point of contention could be giving the chairmanship of the Planning and Development Committee to freshman Joe Gottemoller, R-Crystal Lake, over board veteran Ersel Schuster, R-Woodstock.

Of the board’s 11 standing committees, only the Transportation Committee is keeping the same chairman it had before the Nov. 6 election. Three freshmen under the proposed structure will have chairmanships, and for the first time, a Democrat – one of two on the 24-member board – will head a committee.

Of the committee chairmen on the old County Board, two did not seek re-election and one lost. Five won re-election but were moved – three of them will head committees, but two lost chairmanships entirely. Hill and new Vice Chairman James Heisler chaired committees but must cede them under board rules that forbid the chairman and vice chairman from doing so.

Some committees will start off facing significant tasks. The Planning and Development Committee will work to finalize the new Unified Development Ordinance this year, and the Management Services Committee has been tasked by Hill to discuss whether to advance a referendum making the chairmanship popularly elected by the county’s voters. The last day for governments to put a referendum on the April 9 ballot is Jan. 22.

Also Thursday, County Board members will approve its representatives and liaisons to more than two dozen boards and commissions, such as the McHenry County Economic Development Corp. and the McHenry County Conservation District.

If you go

McHenry County Board

When: 9 a.m. Thursday.

Where: Administration Building, 667 Ware Road, Woodstock.

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