DuPage considering advisory question on reducing county board's size

DuPage County Board members have a month to determine if they want voters to weigh in on a proposal to eliminate one-third of the board's seats.

Officials are discussing the possibility of reducing the size of the county board from 18 to 12 members. If approved, the change would take effect by the 2022 election, when all board seats will be up because of redistricting after the 2020 Census.

But before the final decision is made, several board members are recommending an advisory referendum be placed on the November ballot.

"I think we have a very well-informed constituency," said board member Elizabeth Chaplin, a Downers Grove Democrat. "Put it (the board size question) to a referendum and let our constituents decide."

If the county board wants to do an advisory referendum, the panel must act by its Aug. 11 board meeting, officials said.

In the meantime, a county working group is examining the issue.

The size of the board has remained unchanged since 2002, when a state law capped the county to 18 members and required a separate board to govern the forest preserve district.

Board member Mary FitzGerald Ozog says reducing the size of the board would be "a major consolidation of government."

The Glen Ellyn Democrat said eliminating six board seats would save the county more than $312,000 in annual salaries.

Each board member is paid $52,102 annually and can receive health and dental insurance through the county.

In addition to saving money, Ozog said a smaller board would be "more nimble and able to be more efficient in terms of handling constituent issues."

But several board members are questioning whether it's a good idea to have only two representatives for each of county's six districts.

They say eliminating board seats won't reduce the amount of work that must be done, including fielding phone calls from residents.

Some argue the board could have more diverse viewpoints with 18 members.

In a public comment sent to the working group, Mike Johnson of the Addison Township Democratic Organization said he's opposed reducing the number of county board seats. "I am in favor of more democracy, not less," he wrote.

Last week, Ozog suggested that board members provide information about how much time they devote to county business.

"We can't really talk about this unless we really know what the work is," she said.

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