County Board Votes Down April Referendum
By Stephanie Malench
In a special Madison County board meeting held on January 19, a proposal by Chairman Kurt Prenzler to place an advisory referendum on the April 6 ballot was refused by the county board. The resolution died because of there was no board members made a motion to accept the resolution. Tuesday was the last day for governing bodies to file to have a referendum put on the April 6 ballot.
The question on the ballot would have read “Shall the number of County Board members be reduced from the current 29 members following the 2020 Decennial Census?”
When Prenzler asked the board members for a motion to approve the resolution, board member Mick Madison (R-Bethalto) tried to make a motion to table the resolution and not put it on the ballot, but Prenzler reported to the board before he could finish that he had already spoken to Christine Dickey and that according to Robert’s Rules of Order, a motion to table was not possible. Board member Erica Harriss (R-Glen Carbon) then tried to make a motion for the board to talk about what they were supposed to vote on. Prenzler said there could be no discussion until after a motion was made and that if no motion was made, the resolution would die.
After the two failed attempts to make alternative motions, the original motion died. The issue will not be on the April 6 ballot.
It is required by Illinois law 55 ILCS5/2 that counties with a population of less than 300,000 and a township form of government submit by the third Wednesday in May after the decennial census (the 19th this year), an apportionment plan created by the chairman of the board be presented to the board. The first step in the process is to redraw the precincts.
The reapportionment affects the number of board members and the compensation of board members and the chairman of the board beginning after the 2022 election when all members are up for re-election. The maximum number of board members allowed is 29, and only three other counties in Illinois have 29 (St. Clair, Sangamon, and LaSalle).
Harriss reported after the meeting that board members felt the proposed ballot question was vague. Board members have not seen the updated census numbers for the county, so they do not know how many seats will be lost or how many more constituents they will have to represent.
Madison said in an interview following the meeting “we thought there should have been a plan. There is a lot to consider in each district”. Each district has to have the same number of residents, currently 9,000. Having fewer districts would make more work for fewer people, and board members would want to be paid more than the current $14,500 that each board member makes.
Madison also believes that the people have better representation with 29 representatives than a smaller number. “Our job isn’t to make our job easier. Our job is to do the business of the tax payer and protect their freedom”, Madison said.
Prenzler said that this would have been the perfect time to ask the voters if they wanted to make the board smaller, and part of the state statute provides for an advisory (nonbinding) referendum question.
Madison said that everyone knows the voters would approve with reducing the number of members and that the board should just go ahead and develop the plan and go with it.