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County board discusses downsizing

Proposal: More districts, fewer representatives

OREGON – With its every-10-year reorganization looming, one member of the Ogle County Board wants it to thin its ranks.

Bruce McKinney is suggesting they reduce members by a third – from 24 to 16 – while doubling the number of districts from 8 to 16.

“I feel that my district [4] is kind of top-heavy with three members,” McKinney said Tuesday.

“This would help eliminate the possibility of two county board members being from the same area. District 2 is a long district. This would make sure we had one member from the north side and south side of it. I think it’d be a better representation of Ogle County.”

Jo Daviess, Carroll, DeKalb, Winnebago and Stephenson counties have no more than two representatives per district, he noted.

Lee and DeKalb counties each also have 24 members, Carroll County has nine, and Whiteside 28. 

Ogle County is a committee-driven form of government, and so the way members’ time would be reallocated was a concern.

“I think we need to form a committee to take a look at it all,” board member Thomas K. Smith said. “Not only at downsizing the board, but downsizing committees, too. What’s the number you need to have qualified committees? Our county board is run by committees.”

Some board members would have to serve on an extra committee, or some committees could be combined, McKinney said. 

“Currently, I’m on one committee, the judicial committee,” McKinney said. “We meet about 10 to 15 minutes and we’re done. We could pick up another responsibility. I don’t think that would really be a problem.”

Redistricting, according to state statute, is done based on population, board member Dan Janes noted. The potential plan would require the populations to be plus or minus 3% in each district. 

“You’d have to be careful with breaking up the geographical because it might not interface with the population,” Janes said. “And there is where you’d get in trouble with the state of Illinois.”

The proposal also would create new voting districts and create “a lot more” work for the county clerk, he said.

He and Smith suggested waiting for Census results.

Another course of action would be keep the same districts and reduce the number of representatives, McKinney said.

“That’s another way, just stay with the eight districts and go two per district. But my feeling is you have better representation in the districts if you spread your board members out over the districts.”

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