June 18, 2024
Local News

McHenry County Board votes to dissolve commission unused since 2005

The McHenry County Board dissolved an unused commission, a move touted last week by the McHenry Board Chairman Jack Franks as a common-sense measure to make county government slimmer.

Board members voted last week to dissolve the Public Building Commission, which was created 56 years ago to help county and local governments build facilities to ensure that the needs of a growing population could be met, according to a news release. However, the county government has not used the commission since 2005, and no other unit of local government has ever done so.

“When it comes to consolidating government, this is a textbook example of low-hanging fruit,” Franks, D-Marengo, said in a news release. “We haven’t needed the Public Building Commission’s services in 15 years. And while it assisted in past decades when McHenry County saw explosive growth, its services are no longer required now that that growth has leveled off. One less commission in a state with the most units of local governments in the nation is a good thing.”

The County Board created the Public Building Commission in 1964 to build a new county government center to replace the 1857 courthouse building on the Woodstock Square, according to the release. The commission played an important role in expanding the government center and county jail, building the center’s Annex A, and renovating the previous Valley Hi Nursing Home building.

The commission’s usefulness diminished significantly after changes to debt reform law and the creation of the tax cap imposed limits on the county's ability to borrow without asking voters for permission, according to the release.

A July internal audit conducted by County Auditor Shannon Teresi determined that the County Board should dissolve the commission if it concludes that its value is limited, according to the release. Her audit also noted that the commission carries an operating cost of about $7,500 a year which would eventually deplete the $146,300 in the commission’s fund if no action is taken.

County Administration in the weeks prior to last week’s vote reached out to every municipal government in McHenry County to determine if any had an interest in maintaining the commission’s existence, but none did so.

The commission, which consists of five unpaid members, will hold its final meeting Dec. 3, with the dissolution to take effect the following day. The $146,300 remaining in its budget will be transferred to the county's general fund budget.