Committee Forging a Super Impact

Mary Ardapple, Peoria County Board

Peoria County Board's leadership team recently embarked on a transparent, inclusive course of consensus decision-making and collaboration through the establishment of the County Board and Elected Officials Collaborative Committee, under the direction of Board Chairman Andrew Rand. The first of its kind in the region—and perhaps the nation—the new committee grants citizens the opportunity to hold local county officials more accountable, particularly as financial constraints and budgets are managed the remainder of this year and in the future. At its monthly meetings, the “Super Committee,” as it has become known, couples the experience of board committee chairpersons with the expertise of all elected office holders for a higher standard of organizational stewardship.

As chairwoman of the Super Committee, I, a Republican who represents County Board District 11, share a bipartisan leadership style with Vice Chairwoman Sharon Williams, a Democrat who represents District 1. Together, we focus the committee on several key objectives, beginning with a better understanding of all elected offices. In the public format of an open meeting, each elected official will have an opportunity to inform the committee of his or her role and obligations as they pertain to the autonomous operation of their respective offices. As the County Board is responsible for budget appropriations and the elected official for operational duties, it is imperative for a successfully balanced budget that the board and elected offices have open and productive communications.

Indeed, the Super Committee emphasizes increased communication among all Peoria County government officials to achieve better processes and results across the entire organization. To this end, we have created a new reporting matrix and financial dashboard based on input from County Administration, the Finance Department and elected officials. This new tool compares revenues and expenditures year to date with FY2015 budget projections, providing committee members a realistic analysis of relevant financial information. This monthly budget review, combined with the opportunity for elected officials to offer written comment, will prove beneficial for our 2016 budget preparations.

Unfortunately, today's tumultuous legislative environment is sure to have a negative rippling impact throughout our organization—and across all units of local government. Therefore, the Super Committee is also responsible for monitoring legislative developments in Springfield that may have significant budget ramifications. Vice Chair Williams, Regional Superintendent of Schools Beth Derry, County Board Member Bob Baietto and Sheriff Mike McCoy are working with County Administration to ensure Peoria County has a voice in the General Assembly on key issues that affect the county's well-being.

Looking inward, however, is just as important as speaking out. The Super Committee, in conjunction with the County Operations and Executive Committees, has oversight of a comprehensive internal study to help us identify potential efficiency strategies and management practices that may help trim costs. I am joined by State's Attorney Jerry Brady, Peoria County Treasurer Tripp O'Connor and fellow board member Mike Phelan in fostering an inclusive, professional process capable of producing practical solutions intended to make Peoria County a benchmark of efficiency. Working together, County Board members, elected officials and administration will utilize the study’s results when developing FY2016 and subsequent budgets.

The County Board and Elected Officials Collaborative Committee serves to keep policymakers and, more importantly, the public informed, granting citizens greater access to and a better understanding of the processes and functions of local government. We invite you to attend a monthly meeting held at 2pm the fourth Tuesday of each month in Room 402 of the Peoria County Courthouse, or visit peoriacounty.org to learn more. iBi

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