Rock Island County Board downsizing?

A proposal to shrink the size of the Rock Island County Board has people talking

By Ashley Richmond |

Published 02/10 2016 10:12PM

Updated 02/10 2016 10:20PM

A proposal to shrink the size of the Rock Island County Board got a lot of people talking Wednesday night.
An outspoken group told the board it's time for a change. They say they agree with a new resolution aimed at downsizing from 25 to 15 members. Many added they'd like to see the board shrink even more, saying the Scott County Board serves a larger area with only five members.
"I think this board ought to downsize to 10, at least," said one speaker at the meeting.
"And it needs to reduce now. Taking over 10 years to accomplish it seems somewhat ridiculous," said another.
Strong words and heated opinions as about 15 Rock Island County Board members listened to what people had to say about a new resolution aimed at cutting the size of the board.
The Rock Island County Board's 25 members represent about 148,000 people, according to the 2010 census.
Compare that to Cook County, which includes the City of Chicago. It's the United States' second largest county with a population of 5.2 million residents. The Cook County Board has 17 members.
On top of reducing the size of the Rock Island County Board, the resolution suggests cutting retirement and health insurance benefits for board members; something people at the meeting and board members themselves said should happen.
"I do not believe that part time public servants should be entitled to health insurance and pensions. And the biggest thing it's going to do for this board is it's going to be an example of shared sacrifice," said a speaker at the meeting.
"I would hope there's still people out there that want to give something back to the community, and this is one great way to do it, whether you're paid or not," said Mike Steffen, a Rock Island County Board Member.
Rock Island County Administrator Dave Ross says downsizing the board and cutting benefits would only save about $50-$60,000 a year, adding that no action to downsize the board can be taken  until after the next census in 2020.
Right now, Rock Island County State's Attorney John McGehee is reviewing the resolution to make sure it's legal.
Board members say they expect the resolution to be brought up for a vote at their March meeting.

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