Listen Now
Pledge Now


 
 

Jan Sivertson reflects on tenure as county commissioner

Commissioner Sivertson
Commissioner Sivertson

There was a meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners Tuesday, Dec. 18. The following discussion and action items occurred during Tuesday’s meeting.
 
Public Comment
At the start of Tuesday’s meeting, there was an opportunity for citizens to address the commissioners. Local resident Steve Watson was the only person who spoke during the public comment period. He said he was disappointed that the county board did not support Commissioner Bobby Deschampe and his motion to set the levy at 2.99 percent by using $170,000 from PILT funds and $103,000 in reserves from the general fund to offset the levy increase. That motion failed by a vote of 4-1 on Dec. 11, with only Deschampe voting in support. Watson said the board's action to not use reserve funds was "shameful."

Eventually, the board voted to set the levy at 5.99 percent.

Watson also shared concerns about a proposed jail expansion in Cook County, as well as how the county spends its money and the impact that has on local taxpayers.
 
Emergency Management Update
Cook County Emergency Management Director Valerie Marasco shared an update with the county board regarding the county’s official ‘emergency operations plan.’ There are a number of updates and changes to the county’s plan, including how information is shared with other agencies during emergencies and by what communication tools or devices. There were also updates to evacuation plans and direction for who can enact the emergency plan, Marasco noted.

Commissioner Jan Sivertson said there are many changes to the county’s emergency operations plan, but cited how much work and effort goes into preparing the county for these types of emergency situations.

“This is good, strong work,” Sivertson said to Marasco.

Commissioner Deschampe asked Marasco about the status of volunteer fire departments as this topic relates to the emergency management plan.

Marasco said there is a need for volunteer firefighters across the country, including here in Cook County. County officials are currently seeking more volunteers for all of the local fire departments, she added.

Marasco also shared information about a grant from the North Shore Health Care Foundation regarding new ropes purchased for local search and rescue organizations.
 
 
Final Budget Approval
In more news from Tuesday’s meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers brought a request for the board to officially adopt the 2019 operating budget and levy. The commissioners set the 2019 levy at an increase of 5.99 percent. This process, Powers said, is the official means of adopting the budget for the next year.

Commissioner Deschampe again explained his frustrations with the levy being set at 5.99. There needs to be more collaboration with the public and concerned local citizens, he added.

Commissioner Sivertson said she does listen to concerned citizens, she just does not agree with some of the concerns they share. In addition to those who have an issue with local government, there are other citizens who support the county board and this year’s budget process, Siverston said.

Ultimately, the board voted to adopt the budget and levy for 2019 on a 4-1 vote, with Deschampe voting against.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Board Chair Ginny Storlie of the upcoming year.
 
Hovland Public Works Facility
Also Tuesday, County Administrator Jeff Cadwell shared an update on the plan to build a new Hovland Public Works Facility. Bids for this project came in too high in 2018, so the county has to consider putting out for bids once again and perhaps begin construction in the New Year. Cadwell made a request from the county board to revise the contract with Meyer Group and seek new bids in 2019. This will cost approximately $12,000.

The board voted to approve this request on a 5-0 vote.
 
Jan Sivertson
And finally, Tuesday was the final board meeting for Commissioner Sivertson, who did not run for reelection this year. She listed a list of accomplishments the board and county have made during her four years in office, including balancing the budget, work to repair some of the local roadways, efforts made to bring young families to the community and changes to staff contracts at the county level.

Siverston did acknowledge that it’s a challenging time for the county board and that there need to be more effective ways to communicate with the public as a means to reduce “bullying in the boardroom,” as she referenced it. Overall, Sivertson said she is proud of the work the county board has been able to achieve in the past four years.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Sivertson shortly after the Dec. 18 board meeting. Below is that audio of their conversation. 
 

Listen: