No date yet to dissolve DuPage Election Commission

  • Dan Cronin

    Dan Cronin

 
 

DuPage County successfully has dissolved six small units of government, including two fire protection districts and two sanitary districts.

Now officials are looking to what will be DuPage's highest-profile consolidation to date -- merging the election commission with the county clerk's office.

During his State of the County address this week, county board Chairman Dan Cronin said the commission will be dissolved this year but didn't provide a target date for when the county board will vote on the plan.

"This effort is the culmination of work I've been doing since I was elected in 2010," Cronin told the crowd at a multi-chamber luncheon in Woodridge.

It's estimated that consolidating the election commission and clerk's office could save taxpayers roughly $300,000 a year by combining staffs and finding efficiencies.

"More importantly, the goal is to offer one-stop shopping at the county clerk's office and improve customer service for all residents," Cronin said.

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He said the county has been working to reduce the size, scope and cost of government through its ACT -- Accountability, Consolidation and Transparency -- initiative. Launched in 2012, the initiative called on 24 local governmental entities to make structural and operational reforms.

Thanks to a state law approved in 2013, DuPage was given the ability to eliminate up to 13 local governmental entities.

"We imagined that local government could look and work differently to better serve people," Cronin said.

By the end of 2019, Cronin said the county will have dissolved seven local units of government, including the election commission.

"Through extensive study and working in collaboration with these local entities, we determined their services could be provided in a more efficient manner by another unit of government," he said.

Two examples are the North Westmont Fire Protection District and Highland Hills Sanitary District.

Work is being done to finalize the dissolution of the North Westmont Fire -- a "paper" district that collected property taxes to pay for fire and ambulance services for an unincorporated area near Westmont.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

This year, the same process will finally dissolve Highland Hills, which used to manage sanitary sewer service and water operations for roughly 465 residential and business properties near Lombard.

The county is now providing Lake Michigan water to that area. Once the sanitary district is dissolved, the Flagg Creek Water Reclamation District will provide sewer collection and treatment services.

As for the election commission, voters in March 2018 supported a nonbinding ballot question to dissolve it. That fueled an effort by county board members to get state law changed to allow them to dissolve the commission and return its functions to the clerk's office.

Officials are waiting for newly elected County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek to sign off on the plan to dissolve the commission before the county board votes.

Meanwhile, voters in November overwhelmingly supported a nonbinding ballot question asking DuPage to continue its consolidation efforts. In addition, Cronin said, state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are sponsoring legislation to allow consolidation in other counties.

"It's a small but important step we can take to make government work more efficiently," he said.

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