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Weber bill tackles delinquent county board chairmen

FOX LAKE – State Rep. Tom Weber, R-Lake Villa, has filed legislation in the Illinois House of Representatives to close a gap in county government.

House Bill 1495 would create a removal and replacement process for the chairman of a county board in counties where the chairman of the board is chosen by fellow board members, according to a news release.

“When the chair of a county board is unable, or unwilling, to fulfill their responsibilities, but does not resign the position, the ability of county government to effectively operate is seriously harmed,” Weber in the release. “This is a disservice to not only that county and its elected board, but the taxpayers. Through House Bill 1495, we are creating a process to ensure counties will have the means to remove and replace the board chair in the event of a unique situation that makes it necessary to do so.”

A situation occurred at the Lake County Board in 2018, where Weber served before joining the General Assembly. In July 2018, the board chairman at the time went on a temporary leave of absence, which soon became permanent, but never resigned from his seat on the board or his position as board chairman. It placed a strain on the board because the board chairman is a full-time position, but the other board positions are only part time, including that of vice chairman, who had to assume the full responsibilities of board chairman until the term ended in December.

In consultation with Lake County Board members, Weber has filed HB 1495 to ensure a similar scenario cannot happen in Lake County again, or other counties where the board chairman is chosen by their fellow board members. The legislation provides that the board chairman may be removed by a vote of four-fifths of the board; in the case of Lake County, that would require 17 of 21 board members. Once the board chairman has been removed, their duties will temporarily be assumed by the vice chairman (without extra compensation) until the next regularly scheduled board meeting, at which time a new chair of the board will be elected by the board members.

“It’s somewhat surprising a process like this doesn’t already exist, which is why this legislation is so important,” Weber said in the release. “This is not a Republican or a Democrat issue, this is a good government issue and I hope my colleagues in the House will join me in supporting its passage.”

Weber said the threshold of four-fifths to remove a board chairman is to ensure this process cannot be used for partisan means, but only in rare instances when the board must act to ensure the effectiveness of government. He also reiterated that the bill only applies to counties where the chairman is elected by fellow board members and not counties where the board chairman is popularly elected by voters. Under that county government structure, he said it should be up to the voters who elected the chairman originally.

For more information about House Bill 1495, visit: ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocTypeID=HB&DocNum=1495&GAID=15&SessionID=108&LegID=115926.

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