Next to a host of constitutional amendments and advisory questions, Peoria County voters may face at least two more referendum questions in the Nov. 4 election. The County Board’s executive committee agreed Thursday to ask the full board to approve on Aug. 14 letting citizens decide whether to consolidate the City Election Commission and the county election operations now under the county clerk into a new countywide election commission. The full board also will weigh consolidating the offices of clerk and recorder of deeds. Bringing together the two election entities has long been a priority for the county, and board members have asked legislators for a measure making it easier to do — requiring just one referendum with easy wording rather than two votes with more complex ballot language — since at least 2009, board member Allen Mayer said. “We’ve voted on this again and again and again,” he said of the board’s repeated efforts to get lawmakers to advance a bill, something that was finally done in 2013.
If approved, the consolidation would create an entity that has five commissioners — three from within city of Peoria limits, two from the rest of the county — with no more than three coming from any political party. All would be appointed by the chief judge of the local judicial circuit, and the new commission would then hire staff.
However, the final bill wasn’t as clear-cut as the board had hoped, creating some financial questions — including oversight — for the board, which Mayer said he hopes to fix through an intergovernmental agreement that could, at the same time, put a new commission into office space at the site of the former Care and Treatment Board, 2016 N. Knoxville Ave. That’s now vacant space leased by the county to the tune of $110,000 annually.