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Commissioners engage in direct communication during public comment period

Cook County Board of Commissioners
Cook County Board of Commissioners

There was a fresh approach to the public comment period during a Committee of the Whole meeting Jan. 16 that included the entire Cook County Board of Commissioners.

The most significant change during the public comment period was an exchange of dialogue between the commissioners and several local residents during the meeting.

Members of the county board, for example, addressed specific questions raised by Sherrie Lindskog and Donna Lunke during the meeting, which started at 5 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Room at the Cook County Courthouse.

Lindskog was interested in learning more about how much the commissioners are paid on a daily basis when it comes to serving on various committees. The commissioners, including Heidi Doo-Kirk and Board Chair Ginny Storlie, responded directly to questions about per diems and why they serve on varying committees throughout the region.

This new approach to the public comment period is different than the previous platform that occasionally came under criticism during the budget and levy process in 2017. That approach to the public comment period did not involve an immediate response to questions posed to the commissioners or county administrator. At the end of county board meetings the commissioners would occasionally respond to questions raised by the public. However, in most instances the individual who posed the question had typically left the meeting. Members of the public, including Lindskog, praised the new approach to the public comment period and healthy exchange of information and ideas during Tuesday’s meeting. 

In more news from Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, as reported by members of county staff, include:

Roadside Vegetation & Firewise Standards for Emergency Vehicle Access
Todd Armbruster, Cook County Firewise Coordinator, brought forward a request that the county board consider adopting firewise standards to roadside vegetation to potentially improve emergency vehicle access to development off of the county road system. He suggested that one opportunity was to include brushing guidelines into any future Subordinate Governmental Service District (SGSD) agreements. General consensus was that specific language should be developed and brought to the Public Safety and Transportation Committee for further discussion.
 
Bonding List: Transportation Tax & Capital Projects
Administrator Jeff Cadwell reviewed the proposed schedule, process and projects for consideration in the proposed Capital Improvement/Equipment Bond. Auditor Braidy Powers reviewed the qualifications and limitations for both Capital Improvement and Equipment Bonds and gave an update on collections from the recently authorized half percent transportation sales tax. The $6.3 million of the proposed $8.3 million-bond is for transportation sales tax-authorized projects. The list has been modified to include bridges that have been moved to a higher priority. Proposed capital projects include:

  • $300,000 for deferred Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center maintenance and repair, including windows and roofing,
  • $400,000 for Community Center Park improvements to playground equipment and the skating rink, and
  • $845,000 for a proposed new Public Works facility in Hovland to replace the current facility that has exceeded its useful life.

Equipment bonds would be used to pay for updated countywide pictometry and updates to 911 dispatch hardware and software. Once the list is finalized, there will be a public hearing for public comment on the proposed list of projects, and on the use of general obligation bonds to finance these projects.
 
To watch Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, click here.