Democrat lawmakers renew push to dilute Republican control over local boards; Rauner vetoed similar proposal last year

By Record News | May 16, 2019

SPRINGFIELD – Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea) has proposed legislation to reduce the appointment power of Republican Madison County board chairman Kurt Prenzler. 

One proposal would bump a Prenzler commissioner off the Metro East Sanitary District board in favor of Granite City mayor Ed Hagnauer. 

In effect, that would dilute Prenzler’s majority, giving him two seats among five.

A similar measure proposed last year by Hoffman and former Sen. Bill Haine passed in the General Assembly, but was vetoed by former Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The other proposal would cost Madison County one of its two seats on the Bi-State Development Agency board. 

Hoffman filed the proposals as amendments to Senate bills on other subjects. 

On May 15, the House executive committee passed the Bi-State amendment and tabled the sanitary district amendment. 

Madison County currently holds the majority on the sanitary board because the value of its portion of the district exceeds that of St. Clair County’s portion. 

In 2017, Prenzler asked for and received resignations of sanitary district commissioners that former board chairman Alan Dunstan appointed. 

Prenzler appointed Charles Brinza, Matt Krekovich, and Charlotte Dixon. 

Mayor Hagnauer expressed concern at the time over any reorganization and said replacing any of the commissioners was a mistake. 

Hoffman’s amendment would place Hagnauer on the board on the bill’s effective date. 

It doesn’t specify Granite City but would award the seat to the largest municipality in the county having the greater equalized assessed valuation of the district. 

Hoffman would also limit the contract of executive director Stephen Adler to a year and prohibit retroactive pay, bonus pay, severance pay, and arbitration. 

The district operates and maintains three miles of floodwall, 38 miles of levees, and 52 miles of canals that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built. 

At Bi-State, the board currently includes five commissioners from Missouri, three from St. Clair County, and two from Madison County. 

Hoffman’s amendment doesn’t specify Madison County but would allow only one commissioner for a county without light rail. 

Any seat that a county without light rail lost would belong to an Illinois county with light rail, a description that fits only St. Clair County. 

Prenzler would have to decide whether to pull Justin Zimmerman or Derrick Cox from the Bi-State board in order to create a vacancy for St. Clair County. 

Hoffman filed the sanitary district amendment in Senate Bill 584. 

He filed the Bi-State amendment in Senate Bill 1418.

Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker would likely sign the bill into law.

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