Winnebago County, Illinois

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Winnebago County is one of 102 counties in Illinois. The county has a population of 299,702.[1]

Website evaluation

Main article: Evaluation of Illinois county websites
Transparency Grade
Budget P
Meetings Y
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Elected Officials P
Administrative Officials P
Permits, zoning Y
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Public records P
Local taxes
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Transparency grading process

The good

  • Budget
    • The most current budget is listed.[2]
  • Administrative officials
    • Department heads are listed for each department.[3]
    • Contact information for administrative officials is provided, including a mailing address and phone number.
  • Elected officials
    • Elected officials are listed with a mailing address and phone number.[4]
  • Meetings
    • Meeting minutes are archived for four years.
    • Meeting agendas are archived for four years.[5]
    • A meeting calendar is available and names the times and locations of public meetings.[6]
  • Audits
    • The most recent audit is posted.
    • Audits dating back to 2007 are available.[7]
  • Contracts
    • Bids and RFPs are posted online.[8]
    • Approved contract statements are provided for vendors.[9]
    • Union contracts are provided.[10]
  • Public records
    • The public information officer is identified and maintained by the FOIA Liaison in each department. This person provides a mailing address and phone number.[11]
  • Taxes
    • Tax revenues are broken down by federal, state and local funding in the budget.[12]
    • Local taxes, like property taxes, are available online.[13]
  • Lobbying
    • The county discloses that it hires lobbyists and notes the total amount spent on lobbying.[14]
  • Permits and zoning
    • Zoning ordinances are posted online.
    • Permit applications can be downloaded on the site, along with information on how to apply for the permits.[15]

The bad

  • Administrative officials
    • Personalized emails are not provided.
  • Elected officials
    • Personalized emails are not provided.
  • Public records
    • Personalized emails are not provided.
  • Budget
    • Archived budgets are not posted.


Main article: Lobbying in Winnebago County, Illinois

Winnebago County has spent at least $91,285.50 since 2005 on government sector lobbying.

Winnebago County's lobbying consists of one contract with lobbyist Kolkmeier Consulting. It belongs to two government sector lobbying associations, including Metro Counties of Illinois.

For more on Winnebago County lobbying, see the main article.

Lobbying since 2005
$ lobbying total $ Illinois $ federal government $ lobbying groups # lobbying contracts # lobbying groups
$91,285.50 $10,500.00 - $80,785.50 1 2


The Winnebago County website does not include information about salaries paid to county employees or elected officials. The website also does not include information about the number of employees on the county payroll.


Main article: Illinois public pensions

The Winnebago County website does not include information about the pension plans for its employees and elected officials. There is also no available information about the county's pension liability.

In November 2010 a group of Winnebago 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. Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey told Illinois Statehouse News that municipal pensions in their current forms are not sustainable. He said he wants to see the legislature tackle serious reforms to allow reorganization of pensions similar to corporate reorganizations under the bankruptcy codes.[16]

Illinois is facing a crisis with its publicly funded pensions. In 2010, state government was responsible for over $130 billion in pension payments; however, the state had only $46 billion set aside, leaving an unfunded liability of about $85 billion. Finding a way to fund that $85 billion was to be the focus of the 2011 session of the Illinois General Assembly. The Pew Center for the States reported that as of 2008, Illinois was one of the worst states at contributing to its pension. State lawmakers were expected to consider selling $4 billion worth of bonds to pay the state's annual payment on the five pension programs it runs. In April 2010, the state legislature created a two-tier system for all municipal and state employees—including teachers and state lawmakers—hired after Jan 1, 2011. Police and fire were included in an earlier draft but removed shortly before the vote. For the others, retirement was raised to 67.[17][18][19][20]

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