DuPage County, Illinois
DuPage County is one of 102 102 counties in Illinois. Its county seat is the city of Wheaton. This county is part of the Chicago metropolitan area. The population estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau for 2008 is 930,528, making it the second most populous county in Illinois after Cook County, which borders it to the north and east; the two counties account for half of the state's population. The county is divided into nine different townships: Addison, Bloomingdale, Downers Grove, Lisle, Milton, Naperville, Wayne, Winfield and York. The majority of DuPage County is in the 630 and 331 area codes. However, the areas of the county that are in the city of Chicago are in area code 773, primarily part of O'Hare International Airport.
Long known as one of the nation's wealthiest counties, DuPage County has transformed itself from a primarily agricultural economy to one rich in many different types of commerce. Today, DuPage County has a per capita income which is the highest in the state. DuPage County's per capita income is also the highest in the midwest; nineteen of the county's towns have average household incomes of over $100,000.
The most populous municipality within DuPage County is Naperville. The next largest communities are Wheaton and Downers Grove. A small portion of the City of Chicago is located within the county limits; however, this area is primarily commercial and, as of recent census estimates, has only 230 residents. It also has some of the city Aurora, which is within the county as well.
- 1 Website evaluation
- 2 The bad
- 3 Budget
- 4 Ethics Ordinance amendments
- 5 Transparency reforms
- 6 FOIA
- 7 Housing Authority
- 8 List of School Districts in the County
- 9 Lobbying
- 10 Public employee salaries
- 11 Pensions
- 12 External links
- 13 References
In 2011 DuPage County earned a Sunny Awards for having a perfect website transparency score. It also recently upgraded it's website to be more user-friendly, adding new ways to navigate the site. “The new dupageco.org will provide residents with easier access to a lot more information,” said Brien Sheahan, Technology Committee chairman. “While the old website could be hard to navigate, it did supply residents with a great deal of information regarding county government and services.”
This Web site was mos recently reviewed Nov. 27, 2012.
- Main Article: Evaluation of Illinois county websites
- The most current budget is listed.
- Budgets are archived for 10 years.
- Administrative Officials
- Department heads are listed for each department.
- Contact information for administrative officials is provided including a mailing address, phone number, and some have department email addresses.
- Elected Officials
- Elected officials are listed with a mailing address, phone number and personalized email.
- The most recent audit is posted.
- Audits dating back to 2003 are available.
- Public Records
- Permits and zoning
- Administrative Officials
- Personalized emails are not provided for department heads.
In October, 2009, the Civic Federation endorsed DuPage County’s FY2010 budget plan, stating that "it maintains funding for core programs while providing property tax relief." In October 2010, the bond rating agency Fitch's granted DuPage County a 'AAA' rating. Fitch's said the county's aggregate debt burden is "manageable and future capital needs are modest." Fitch's also reported DuPage County's ability to "maintain financial margins amidst the current economic downturn especially given its reliance upon economically sensitive revenue sources."
For the seventh year in a row, DuPage County received the highest form of recognition in government budgeting from the Government Finance Officers Association. The county’s budget is reviewed annually by the Government Finance Officers Association to assess how well it meets nationally recognized guidelines as a policy document, financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device. The county’s budget documents were rated “proficient” in all four categories including the 14 mandatory criteria within those categories.
Ethics Ordinance amendments
In January 2010, the County Board adopted amendments to the county's Ethics Ordinance. The full text, along with information explaining the changes and the ordinance was made available. Additional links point to pages identifying:
- Members of the Ethics Commission, their responsibilities, and meeting schedule,
- Procedures for filing a complaint along with the requisite form,
- Contractor/Vendor Forms and instructions related to Procurement Services, which are required in order to affirm that a Contractor/Vendor including all principals of the business and their family members have not made any prohibited gifts to the Board Chairman, Board Members, any County employee or spouse or family member thereof,
- Disclosure of campaign contributions to all County officials within the prior 12 months.
Livestreaming County Board meetings
The county is working on live streaming webcasts of County Board meetings, which will afterward be available for viewing on-demand, and anticipates implementation in April, 2010.
Posts check register
On January 12, 2009, Dupage County began posting its checkbook register online. The three new reports posted on the Auditor’s website will include: a detailed listing of county payments made by each elected office and department; a detailed report of payments grouped by vendor; and a detailed report of contract payments grouped by vendor.,
The policy was enacted under its new Auditor, Bob Grogan, who took office in December of 2008. A year later, Grogan is working to also post the salaries and contracts for the county. He hopes it will encourage to be transparent and is offering the code free-of-charge to any that are interested.
Ad Hoc Panel for transparency
Shortly after the posting the county check register, the County Chairman Robert J. Schillerstrom formed an Ad Hoc panel to discuss future tools and practices to allow greater government transparency.
DuPage County Sheriff John Zaruba is being investigated for allowing his then 17-year old son to go on ride-alongs and for having access to the confidential Illinois Law Enforcement Agencies Data System, or LEADS. The Better Government Association is suing to see which records his son was given access to, given that other officers who've used the database for personal reasons have been fired or reprimanded.
The Housing Authority misspent more than $5.8 million in federal money and did not adequately document another $4.7 million a federal audit revealed. The head of agency has already resigned, after the audit revealed that funds were spent on clothes, flowers, and Christmas gifts for the board, about $2.3 in "unallowable" spending. Additionally, the audit revealed $2.6 million in housing assistance to households that were inappropriately admitted into the program.
As a result of the audit, federal officials are investigating the DuPage Housing Authority. Investigators with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Inspector General are examining the housing authority's development of Myers Commons, a 91-unit senior housing project in Darien.
List of School Districts in the County
Please note that under DuPage County law, any type of educational institution, including colleges and universities, is legally defined as a school.
- Main article: Lobbying in DuPage County, Illinois
DuPage County has spent at least $1,819,999.96 since 2005 on government sector lobbying.
On Aug. 28, 2012 the county board voted 15-1 to spend $300,000 to keep three lobbying firms at the state and federal levels. Two of the firms — All-Circo, Inc. and V.A. Persico Consulting — will work with state lawmakers on the county’s behalf. The third firm, BGR Government Affairs LLC in Washington, D.C., will focus on federal initiatives.Board members who supported hiring the firms said DuPage’s team of lobbyists helped secure millions of dollars in state and federal funding for the county over the past year.
Taxpayer-funded lobbying is the use of public funds by governments to influence other levels of government. Counties, for example, will pay lobbyists to influence the state or the federal government. This type of lobbying is often not disclosed to constituents. Counties hire lobbyists on a contractual basis, have lobbyists on staff, or join groups which promote or oppose legislation on their behalf. Lobbyists also help counties seeking specific projects or appropriations.
For more on DuPage County lobbying, see the main article.
|$ lobbying total||$ Illinois||$ federal government||$ lobbying groups||# lobbying contracts||# lobbying groups|
Public employee salaries
- Main article: DuPage County employee salaries
DuPage County salaries are salaries paid to elected officials and county employees.The DuPage County website includes a salary range for its employees. The website also breaks down the duties of each employee. The website does not include the salaries of elected officials. The website does not list a total number of county employees.
According to a Better Government Association report the five of the DuPage County Board’s 18 members missed roughly a third of their public board and committee sessions in the first nine months of 2011. The BGA review of official meeting minutes also discovered:
- J.R. McBride (R-Glen Ellyn) missed more meetings than anyone – 40 board and committee sessions – but he said he had a good reason for many of those absences. He was recovering from a July surgery to remove a brain tumor, his fourth such operation in 11 years.
- Anthony Michelassi (D-Aurora) had 95 board and committee meetings he could have attended, but showed up for 59 of them, or 62 percent. That’s the lowest percentage on the board.
- Five board members missed 24 or more meetings, or about a third of their totals. Aside from McBride and Michelassi, they were Rita Gonzalez (D-Addison), Michael McMahon (R-Hinsdale) and Patrick O’Shea (R-Lombard).
- Five board members missed fewer than 10 board and committee meetings: Grant Eckhoff (R-Wheaton), Dirk Enger (D-Winfield), Robert Larsen (R-Warrenville), Jeff Redick (R-Elmhurst) and John Zediker (R-Naperville). Enger had the best attendance numbers on the board. He made 90 of 95 meetings, or roughly 95 percent.
Main article: _(Sunshine_Review)|Illinois Public Pensions
The DuPage County website does not include information about the pension levels it offers to its employees and elected officials. As of December 2009, the county had a $180.7 million unfunded actuarial accrued pension liability.
A report by the Illinois Better Government Association revealed several county board members draw dual public-sector salaries and stand to draw dual pensions, including County Board Chairman Dan Cronin who stands to draw a pension from his service in DuPage County as well as an Illinois legislator. DuPage County Board members who want to qualify for pensions are supposed to work at least 1,000 hours a year on county-related business. DuPage County Board members participate in what’s commonly known as ECO, or the "elected county official" pension program, part of IMRF. They become vested after eight years and after 20 years they’re eligible to receive 80 percent of their final year’s salary.
In November 2010 a group of DuPage municipal leaders went to Springfield to air grievances over funding local pensions for police and fire departments. The municipal leaders said they could not afford the pension plans and were being forced to consider diminishing those departments because they do not have the funds to pay for police and fire employees and pay into the pension plans.
Illinois is facing a crisis with its publicly funded pensions. In 2010 state government was responsible for over $130 billion in pension payments, however they only had $46 billion set aside, which leaves an unfunded liability of about $85 billion. Finding a way to fund that $85 billion will be the focus of the 2011 general assembly. The Pew Center for the States reported that as of 2008, Illinois is one of the worst states at contributing to its pension systems. State lawmakers will consider selling $4 billion of bonds to pay the state's annual payment on the five pension programs it runs.
At least one 2012 candidate for the DuPage County Board is making pension reform an issue. Rafael Rivadeneira a District 2 candidate, is calling for the elimination of pensions for county board members.
In December 2011 DuPage County Board members opted to keep the option to enroll in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF), the state’s second-largest pension fund with $25 billion in assets. To qualify for the pension plan elected officials are expected to perform at least 1,000 hours of county-related work annually for eight years. However, the elected officials don’t have to prove they meet the requirement. Neither the IMRF nor the county requires that they document their time.Participating board members contribute 7.5 percent of their annual salary, or roughly $3,750 a year. But DuPage County taxpayers shoulder a significant load – in fiscal year 2011 the county paid IMRF $352,997 to cover board member-related pension obligations, according to a DuPage County Board spokeswoman.
- DuPage County official website
- Forest Preservation of DuPage County
- DuPage regional office of education
- DuPage County Health Department
- DuPage County Bar Association
- DuPage County Sheriff's Website
- DuPage Regional Office of Education Website
- DuPage County on Epodunk
- DuPage Elections Commission
- Dupage Sheriff
- 18th Judicial Circuit Court
- DuPage County, Budgets, Accessed: November 27, 2012
- DuPage County, Staff Directory, Accessed: November 27, 2012
- DuPage County, Elected Officials, Accessed: November 27, 2012
- Meeting Schedule
- DuPage County, Meeting Minutes, Agendas, and Videos, Accessed: November 27, 2012
- DuPage County, Audits, Accessed: November 27, 2012
- DuPage County, Bids and RFPs, Accessed: November 27, 2012
- DuPage County, Approved Contracts, Accessed: November 27, 2012
- DuPage County, FOIA Officers, Accessed: November 27, 2012
- DuPage County, FOIA form and fee schedule, Accessed: November 27, 2012
- DuPage County, Tax Information, Accessed: November 27, 2012
- DuPage County, Pay Taxes, Accessed: November 27, 2012
- DuPage County, County Lobbying Disclosure, Accessed: November 27, 2012
- DuPage County, Zoning, Accessed: November 27, 2012
- DuPage County, Building Permit, Accessed: November 27, 2012
- 'Fitch Rates DuPage County, Outlook Stable', CNBC, October 22, 2010 (dead link)
- Proposed Changes to County Ethics Policy
- DuPage County Ethics Ordinance and Related Information
- "New ethics reform proposal might be coming to Kane County," Daily Herald, February 26, 2010
- County Board Meetings, April 28, 2009
- Dupage County Auditor, Checkbook register
- Illinois Review, Auditor Bob Grogan Posts DuPage County Check Register, January 12, 2009
- My Suburban Life, County to post financial information online, Jan. 14, 2009
- The Wheaton Sun, 'Show them everything', December 11, 2009 (dead link)
- Dupage County, AD HOC COMMITTEE TO EXPAND TRANSPARENCY AND ACCESSIBILITY IN COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Jan. 14, 2009
- Better Government Association, Sheriff Gives Teenage Son Access To Police Database, June 29, 2012
- Daily Herald, Feds say DuPage Housing Authority misspent $5.8 million, March 26, 2011
- Chicago Tribune, DuPage County Housing Authority under federal investigation, Jan. 3, 2012
- Daily Herald, DuPage defends use of lobbying firms, Aug. 29, 2012
- 'Salary Range Report'. DuPage County, December 1, 2009
- DuPage County Auditor Report
- Better Government Association, Some DuPage Board Members Have Spotty Attendance, Nov. 28, 2011
- 'Business Wire', Fitch Rates DuPage County, October 22, 2010
- BGA, Double Dipping in DuPage County, Oct. 15. 2011
- 'The Doings', Local Officials Take Pension Plea to Springfield, November 18, 2010 (dead link)
- Illinois Issues, The Pension Chasm, November 15, 2010
- State House News, November 4, 2010
- Rafael Rivadeneira, Eliminate publicly funded pensions for DuPage County Board
- Better Government Association, Protecting a Perk in DuPage County, Dec. 19, 2011