Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen reviewed the first half-year under his rule Tuesday, offering kind words about the spirit of cooperation he has seen on the board's committees.
In particular he praised the subcommittee working on the purchase of new court-case management software, saying it had gone from a panel where people were "chewing on each other's ankles" to an efficient one dedicated to getting the project accomplished soon.
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Lauzen briefly mentioned the hiring of a person to review the finances of the animal control shelter, in the absence of having a director. He had been criticized for appointing a political ally to the post. Lauzen also reiterated his position that the director does not have to be a veterinarian.
He talked about implementing a junior county board, of high school and junior-college students, as an exercise in teaching students about self-government.
And he noted the county is in the midst of preparing the first budget under his regime. "This one is going to be the test of how we do together," he said, noting a promise made to not raise the property tax levy.
Board member T.R. Smith, an ally, emphasized that when Lauzen then asked board members what they want to change, improve or review.
"Our No. 1 responsibility is to the taxpayers. We promised to freeze the tax levy, and we have to keep that promise," Smith said.
Board members Drew Frasz and Melisa Taylor brought up the difficulty of navigating the county's phone system, with Frasz suggesting the phones be answered by a person. The circuit court clerk's office used to handle that but cut it out when the former clerk was in a budget dispute with the county board.
And Assistant State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally emphasized the need for a new court records system. "I cannot get a copy of an order on the Internet unless I go to Tom's (circuit court clerk Hartwell) office and they make me a copy. The judiciary is a very important part of dispute resolution for all our citizens. It has to be done with speed so people can resolve their problems and move forward with their lives," he said. And if Kane County hopes to have a foreclosure mediation program, better access to case documents is crucial, he said: "That's all paperwork."
Only 14 county board members were at the committee of the whole meeting, however, to hear Lauzen's comments.
Board members Jesse Vazquez, Ron Ford, Susan Starrett, Phil Lewis, Myrna Molina, Monica Silva, John Hoscheit, Mike Kenyon, Cristina Castro and Douglas Scheflow were absent.
It was a light agenda. The only other items were approval of meeting minutes, and an informational presentation about the Marklund organization about its services for people with severe physical and developmental disabilities.
The board's finance and budget committee meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday. It is scheduled to discuss authorizing a foreclosure mediation program, providing a "funding framework" for the purchase of the new court clerk case -- management system, and spending $117,000 to demolish the former sheriff's office and jail.