County Board Primer

UNDERSTANDING WHAT THE CHAMPAIGN COUNTY BOARD  HAS THE JURISDICTION TO DO

PRIMARY DUTIES FOR ALL ILLINOIS COUNTIES
The county board is both the legislative and executive branch of county government. As a legislative body, the board enacts ordinances and resolutions that can apply either to the county as a region, including the cities within it, or specifically to the unincorporated area of the county. As an executive body, the board administers the activities of county departments and offices, except those headed by the other elected county officials. In their capacity as the governing body, the county board adopts an annual budget for the county, establishes tax rates, and authorizes bond issues, subject to voter approval. In a quasi-judicial role, the board reviews zoning, planning and land use matters and considers appeals in granting or denying certain permits and licenses. The county board is also empowered to establish and control special districts to provide services in unincorporated areas of the county. In order to effectively supervise the operations of the county, the board elects a chairman from its membership who serves as the head of the county government. The chairman facilitates the operations of the county board and the other departments of the county
STRUCTURE OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT AND COUNTY BOARD FOR ALL ILLINOIS COUNTIES
The Illinois Constitution mandates that a county board be elected in each county. The number of members of the county board are set by ordinance in each county with limitations provided by law. Counties with townships organization may see boards between 5 and 29 members, while counties under commission form are governed by a 3 or 5 member board. Voters can establish whether county board members will be selected at large, from single member, or multi-member districts. However, the number of members and the number of districts is decided by the county board, not the voters. 
CURRENTLY CHAMPAIGN COUNTY IS GOVERNED BY AN EXECUTIVE FORM
WITHOUT HOME RULE
The General Assembly, by statute, provides for three kinds of counties: counties under TOWNSHIP ORGANIZATION, counties under COMMISSION FORM, and counties under a county EXECUTIVE FORM of government. Champaign County has adopted the Executive Form. Home Rule--A county which has a chief executive officer is considered a "home rule unit: A county-wide referendum is required to establish this plan. Home rule counties have broad authority to provide for local government issues. The advantage of this designation is that, except as limited by State law, home rule counties may exercise any power and perform any function relating to its government and affairs, including the power to regulate for the protection of the public health, safety, morals and welfare; to license; and to borrow money and levy taxes. Cook County is the only home rule county in Illinois. Will County voters elected to go to a county executive form without home rule in 1988.
MAJOR FUNCTIONS OF CHAMPAIGN COUNTY BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS FOLLOWING DILLION'S RULE: 
Counties' governmental and service functions are broken into two broad categories: (1) functions that are mandated by state law or constitution, and (2) optional, or discretionary, functions that counties may choose to perform or not to perform. The second category is much more extensive than the first.
 
MANDATORY FUNCTIONS 
• Elect a chairman to conduct meetings, hold meetings at prescribed times, and publish a report of each meeting.
• Furnish space, fixtures, fittings and other necessary equipment for county offices. This includes providing a courthouse, a jail, and other buildings necessary for the operation of the courts and other county administrative offices.
• Adopt an annual budget that appropriates funds to cover expenditures for various county offices and functions. Included in the overall budgeting responsibility is the obligation to prepare annual financial report.
• Evaluate all claims made on county funds, and prosecute or defend lawsuits brought by or against the county and any officers thereof. In the event that a lawsuit results in a judgment against the county or on of its officers, the board or commission is responsible for paying any damages awarded by the court.
DISCRETIONARY FUNCTIONS
• MAY oversee the care and custody of county-owned property, including museums, dog pounds, recreational facilities, waste treatment facilities, sanitary landfills, and so on.
MAY assume general management responsibility for obtaining and administering federal funds, for levying and collecting taxes on real property and on the sale of goods and services, and for issuing bonds to provide funds for acquisition or construction of capital equipment projects.
MAY have broad discretionary authority in the area of public and environmental health and safety. The county board may act as a board of health or establish a health department; provide for various emergency services; make available clinics, hospitals, and shelters; and engage in environmental health activities.
MAY engage in land use planning and zoning, including participating in regional planning, and may regulate in the area of building and safety codes, building permits, and subdivisions regulations.
MAY provide employment procedures, personnel policies, maintenance of property record system, business and economic development, various types of insurance, and so on.
MAY provide public parks and open spaces, museums, historic preservation activities, county libraries, county fairs, and funding of soil and crop improvement associations.
MAY provides social services, including making grants to community action agencies and providing services for youth, the aging, the mentally deficient, and neglected or delinquent children. Many counties in Illinois have provided funding to establish veterans' assistance agencies.
MAY have some authority to engage in emergency services planning, to provide ambulance services, to provide for police and fire communication systems, and to work closely with other public agencies in the provision of emergency services.
MAY have extensive power to provide for the construction of highways, roads, bridges, lighting, culverts, etc.; to organize county unit road districts; to establish a road naming or numbering system; to construct and operate parking facilities; and to operate an airport.
MAY support the local elections authority with regard to all aspects of the election process: voter registration, fixing election districts and polling places, appointing election judges, providing for balloting boxes, etc.

© 2019 by Giraldo Rosales