Hill nominates Munaretto for Metra Board

WOODSTOCK – Once again, a former McHenry County Board member is in line to be appointed to represent the county on a mass-transit board.

County Board Chairwoman Tina Hill, R-Woodstock, is recommending appointing Marc Munaretto, a Republican from Algonquin, to represent the county on the Metra Board. If approved June 3 by the full County Board, Munaretto will replace Jack Schaffer, who is not seeking reappointment when his term expires June 30.

Hill, who chose Munaretto from a field of about a dozen applicants who interviewed Thursday for the position, called him a “solid choice” because of his financial background. He was the longtime chairman of the County Board Finance and Audit Committee and played a significant role in developing policies that have resulted in county government’s top-notch credit rating.

“Marc has got the financial savvy he had when he had us on the straight and narrow,” Hill said. “I’m really excited for his representation over there.”

Munaretto said his priority if appointed will be to push to find financing for much-needed infrastructure improvements and expanding service to McHenry County, which is served by the Union Pacific Northwest line.

“I have some very specific ideas about things I would like to evaluate through [Metra] staff ... that might help Metra find sources of funds that could provide services that it doesn’t provide,” Munaretto said.

Munaretto said he did not want to dwell on the high-profile scandals that have surrounded Metra’s executive directors in recent years and resulted in a number of resignations from the Metra Board.

“Metra has had some issues in the past, and I think that chapter in its existence, I hope, is over,” Munaretto said.

The Metra Board in 2013 approved a generous exit package for new CEO Alex Clifford, worth up to $718,000, with eight months remaining on his first contract. When pressed by angry state lawmakers, Clifford alleged he was forced out because he would not play along with patronage requests made by several Metra Board members at the behest of clout-heavy lawmakers.

Clifford had been hired to help clean up Metra in the wake of the scandal surrounding former CEO Phil Pagano, who killed himself in 2010 near his rural Crystal Lake home by stepping in front of a Metra train hours before the Metra Board was set to fire him for collecting $475,000 in unauthorized vacation payouts and other fiscal irregularities.

Munaretto served on the County Board for 14 years before deciding in 2012 not to run for re-election. He served for two decades as Algonquin Township Clerk until last year, when he unsuccessfully ran for township supervisor against incumbent Dianne Klemm.

The Metra Board pays $15,000 a year, but new appointees are no longer eligible for pension or insurance benefits as a result of reform bills that passed in the wake of the Pagano and Clifford scandals.

Hill last year nominated former County Board member Blake Hobson to replace former GOP power broker Al Jourdan as McHenry County’s representative on the Regional Transportation Authority Board. The County Board approved Hobson on a 22-0 vote.

The County Board on June 3 also will vote to reappoint Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley to another term on the Pace Board, which oversees suburban bus service. Shepley was the only person to apply – state law requires Pace Board members to be either a current mayor or village president in the area they represent, or a former mayor or village president residing in the area.

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