Will recorder office referendum get axed in DuPage?

DuPage County Board members may scrap a plan to have voters decide the future of the recorder's office and instead put three other referendum questions on the fall ballot.

Voters in November are slated to decide whether the recorder's office should be abolished. The binding question asks if the duties of the recorder's office should be merged with the county clerk's office by Nov. 30, 2022.

But the results of an independent study have some questioning the need for the referendum question.

The study by MGT Consulting Group found the proposed merger won't save DuPage as much money as originally expected "unless the offices reduce head count and personnel expenditures."

"Merging the two offices in DuPage County could ultimately provide for more efficient provision of service," the report states, "but just combining the staff of the two offices will not make the operations more efficient or save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars annually."

Because of the finding, county board Chairman Dan Cronin has said he believes the planned referendum would be misleading to the public.

"I think it undermines the whole purpose of consolidation," Cronin said last month. "It's not going to be more transparent. It's not going to save money. It's not going to reduce head count. So why would we do it?"

So during its regular board meeting this morning, the county board will consider whether to repeal the November 2019 resolution that put the merger question on the ballot.

Meanwhile, the board also will consider whether to seek three other countywide referendums in the fall. Four new questions are being proposed, but state law won't allow DuPage to put more than three on the ballot, officials said.

Three of the proposed advisory questions are part of the same resolution. They read:

• "Shall DuPage County continue to consider financial support of law enforcement and public safety its top budgeting priority?"

• "In order to fight the spread of COVID-19, shall DuPage County obtain a stockpile of personal protective equipment for distribution to nursing homes, first responders, health care providers, and at-risk communities who are not otherwise able to obtain personal protective equipment?"

• "Shall DuPage County continue to fund and support training methods that decrease the risk of injury to officers and suspects for local law enforcement agencies?"

The other nonbinding question would ask voters if the size of the county board should be reduced from 18 to 12 members.

Members have talked about the possibility of eliminating one-third of the seats on the county board to save money. If the idea is approved, the change would take effect by the 2022 election, when every board seat will be up because of redistricting after the 2020 census.

Some say the proposed advisory question would give the board guidance. But a working group says eliminating board seats may cause issues, including a lack of diversity on the panel and increased workloads for its members.

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