Lake Co. Board could shrink this year
The Lake County Board should shrink from 23 to 21 members, a key committee recommended Monday.
The unanimous recommendation came during a discussion about reconfiguring the county's representative districts, which is required this year following the recent release of the 2010 U.S. Census figures.
The county board, which doubles as the county's forest preserve district board, has had 23 members since 1992. It slimmed down from 24 members that year, also during a redistricting effort.
No districts were targeted for elimination during Monday's reapportionment committee meeting.
Under state law, the county board must approve a new district map by July 1.
The county's population was 703,462 in 2010, according to the census. That's up about 9 percent from the 2000 figure of 644,356.
Vernon Hills Republican Aaron Lawlor, the vice chairman of the committee, recommended eliminating two county board districts Monday. By law, the county board can have no more than 18 members once a census shows the local population exceeds 800,000, and that could happen in 2020.
Trimming two seats now and more later is better than trimming at least five in 2022, the next time the board would need to examine redistricting, Lawlor said.
Cutting two commissioners from the roll also will save the county money, Lawlor argued. The savings could be as much as $80,000 per person once salary, health benefits, mileage reimbursements and other job-related costs are totaled, he said.
Trying to whack at least five commissioners' jobs in 10 years would be "near impossible" politically because the move would pit sitting board members against each other in the 2022 election, Lawlor said.
Lawlor's plan had several vocal supporters, including board veteran Stevenson Mountsier.
"We need to start planning now (for the expected mandatory reduction in 2022) and take the first step," said Mountsier, a Lake Barrington Republican.
The committee also voted to direct its chairwoman, Mundelein Republican Diana O'Kelly, and the demographer the county has hired to develop a 21-district map.
By state law, all of the county board districts must have near-identical populations, based on census figures. In fact, they can only be off by one resident.
If the county goes ahead with a 21-district map, the target population per district would be 33,498, officials said.
As a result, some current districts that have larger populations will be divided. Conversely, some that are below that ideal population will be combined with parts of others to hit that figure.
District 5, now served by Ingleside Republican Bonnie Thomson Carter, is the largest district based on population with 41,837 residents, according to Census figures.
District 9, served by Waukegan Democrat Mary Ross Cunningham, is the smallest with 25,318 residents.
A proposed map will be reviewed at an as-of-yet-unscheduled committee meeting before it goes to the board for a vote.