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County Board to vote on two Mental Health Board nominees next week

County Board to vote on two Mental Health Board nominees next week

WOODSTOCK – A McHenry County Board committee will hold onto leftover applications it received to fill two vacancies on the Mental Health Board.

The Public Health and Human Services Committee picked two candidates from a field of six applicants to replace members who resigned over work conflicts. But because two more vacancies will come up at the end of the year, the committee intends to keep the resumes of the four other applicants on file.

Committee members voted Wednesday, 6-0, to recommend Raymond Lapinas and Kathleen Kuchta to the nine-member board. The board’s primary goal is to distribute money from a special county property tax levy to entities that work with the mentally and developmentally disabled.

Lapinas, a Lake in the Hills financial consultant, had the backing of all six committee members given his financial background. Kuchta, a retired nurse and former McHenry Township trustee, had the backing of a three-member majority.

“We need someone with a very, very strong financial background on the Mental Health Board,” said committee member Paula Yensen, D-Lake in the Hills. Yensen holds the County Board’s voting seat on the Mental Health Board.

The full County Board will vote on Lapinas’ and Kuchta’s appointments next Tuesday. Both terms expire Jan. 1, 2017.

The Mental Health Board has faced significant budgetary challenges in recent years with the drop in property tax revenue. Critics allege the board’s fiscal problems have been exacerbated by overreach in its mission, staff and administrative bloat, and the decision to build a massive expansion to its headquarters.

The board underwent almost a complete turnover last year that coincided with a shake-up of its administrative staff. The public health committee after the 2012 election was filled with a majority that sought fundamental reform of the Mental Health Board’s size and spending.

Two of the original three-member slate of reform candidates are the ones whose positions need to be filled. Carrie Smith, former pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church in Crystal Lake, is moving to Jerusalem to preach at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Heather Murgatroyd stepped down because her frequent travel associated with her job created a time conflict.

Future resignations notwithstanding, the public health committee will have to interview for two Mental Health Board seats later this year. The terms of Scott Breeden, a former County Board member, and Don Larson, currently the Mental Health Board’s longest-serving member, expire at the end of the year.

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