Voters could force $13M bond issue to referendum

News and notes from the Dec. 22 Winnebago County Board meeting

By Stuart R. Wahlin

Staff Writer

The Winnebago County Board adopted an ordinance Dec. 22 authorizing the issuance of up to $13 million in general obligation bonds for its tort fund after the county found itself at the losing end of $17 million in settlements this fall, resulting from a fatal traffic accident involving a sheriff’s deputy.

However, voters could put the brakes on the “backdoor referendum” if enough qualified signatures are obtained on a petition within 30 days after notice of a public hearing is published. The county plans to publish such notice in the Rockford Journal by Jan. 14, 2010.

If a petition with enough valid signatures is submitted to the county clerk within 30 days of the published notice, voters would demand the bond issue be placed on the Nov. 2, 2010, ballot as a referendum.

According to the ordinance, “…if no petition, signed by electors numbering the greater of (i) seven and one-half percent (7.5 percent) of the registered voters in the county (i.e., 12,773 electors) or (ii) 200 of those registered voters or fifteen percent (15.0 percent) of those registered voters (i.e., 25,546), whichever is less, and asking that the issuance of the bonds be submitted to referendum, is filed with the county clerk within thirty (30) days after the date of the publication of this ordinance and the notice, then this ordinance shall be in full force and effect, and the bonds shall be authorized to be issued.”

A public hearing regarding the bond issue is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 28.

Minority, gender resolution

passes after amendment

The board approved a “resolution providing for continuation of full community representation in appointments to boards and commissions,” after a Diversity Council amendment from the original wording, “resolution requiring consideration of racial, ethnic, and gender composition of the county in appointments to boards and commissions.”

John Ekberg (R-10) considered the amendment an improvement.

“It’s not that we’re currently not doing the job of getting people appointed,” he explained. “I think that the community at large, minority community, doesn’t know that we really want to recruit people to be in those positions.”

The original resolution was submitted in September by Pearl Hawks (D-6), who was heard to cast a “no” for the amendment during a voice vote, along with Paul Gorski (D-5). The amended motion, however, was unanimously approved in a roll-call vote.


•Executing a renewal agreement with Lloyds of London for stop-loss and aggregate stop-loss coverage related to county insurance plans for employees and retirees for individual claims more than $125,000.

• Authorizing execution of an adoption agreement and administrative services agreement for the Vantagecare Retirement Health Savings Plan. The move is related to a retirement health savings account as part of a collective bargaining agreement implemented in 2006 with the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Labor Council, Lodge 50. Originally, the plan allowed voluntary employee contributions of up to $40, which the county would match. However, a 2007 ruling by the Internal Revenue Service requires that all lodge members participate to qualify for the plan, of which the union has since voted in favor.

• Requesting consent of the Illinois Department of Transportation to re-appoint County Engineer Joe Vanderwerff for a six-year term.

• Authorizing the execution of an intergovernmental agreement with the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority for the long-term maintenance of the Rockton Road and McCurry Road bridges over I-90. Maintenance includes plowing, patching and striping, according to County Engineer Joe Vanderwerff.

• Authorizing extension of a River Bluff Nursing Home contract with the Visiting Nurses Association for hospice care.


Angie Goral (D-7) was re-appointed to a one-year term on the Winnebago County Board of Health, expiring October 2010. Patricia Lewis and Richard Warner were re-appointed to three-year terms.

Steven Poyner was re-appointed to a three-year term with the Cherry Valley Fire Protection District, expiring May 2012.

Lynnette Foster, Eugene Quinn, Phyllis Speiss and Fred Wescott (R-9) were re-appointed to five-year terms with the Winnebago County Housing Authority, expiring September 2014.

Michael Fenger and Dennis Johnson were re-appointed to six-year terms with the Sheriff’s Merit Commission, expiring October 2015.


George Anne Duckett (D-12), Dianne Parvin (R-4) and Dave Yeske (R-2) were absent.

From the Dec. 30, 2009 – Jan. 5, 2010 issue

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