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DuPage panel outlines its legislative wish list

Updated: February 17, 2013 6:12AM

Marching orders are on their way from DuPage County to Springfield.

Meeting for the first time in five months, a reorganized legislative committee of County Board members found consensus Tuesday morning on the lawmaking they hope to see their General Assembly counterparts accomplish this year.

Topping the list is government consolidation, reflecting an effort already under way at the board level. County officials have begun streamlining local governmental agencies, noting that Illinois leads the nation in its inventory of local government units, with nearly 7,000 in all.

A board-ordered outside assessment of its two dozen appointed taxing bodies concluded last year that efficiencies would be achieved through adherence to best practices and model standards.

“In just six months’ time, over $1 million in savings has been realized through shared services, the elimination of positions, and the adoption of county financial and procurement policies,” governmental affairs manager Sheryl Markay wrote in a memo prepared for this week’s committee meeting.

The county also wants legislators to look elsewhere for revenue, rather than siphoning from local governments’ portion of income tax receipts to help cover the state’s expenses.

Continuation of an elevated Medicaid reimbursement rate for the DuPage Convalescent Center is near the top of the legislative priorities list as well. The enhanced level of payments, enacted after three years of discussions between DuPage County officials and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, translates to some $2.6 million at stake annually for the county.

“As the state has yet to submit to the federal government an implementation plan to enact the reforms contained in the 2011 Medicaid Reform Law, the opportunity remains to ensure the continuation of the HFS enhanced rate,” the memo reads.

County officials also want continuation of the 73-cent wireless line surcharge that helps underwrite the 9-1-1 emergency call network which is managed by the DuPage Emergency Telephone System Board.

Also among the listed priorities is implementation of a storm water utility fee to help offset the costs of flood control; encouragement of self-managed contribution retirement plans and other approaches for public employees, to help alleviate the state’s pension crisis; and support for the Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project.

A list of future road projects was also included in the committee’s materials, for long-term planning purposes. Among those wish-list items is widening 75th Street from Odgen Avenue in Naperville to Janes Avenue in Woodridge, at an estimated cost of more than $140 million; and upgrades for Eola Road between New York Street and Butterfield Road, pegged at $65 million.

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