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Quinn expected to sign DuPage Co. water reform bill
By Jake Griffin | Daily Herald Staff

Pat Quinn


Dan Cronin


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Published: 7/28/2010 6:03 PM | Updated: 7/28/2010 9:39 PM

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Officials within Republican state Sen. Dan Cronin's campaign for DuPage County Board chairman said Gov. Pat Quinn will sign a controversial bill aimed at reforming the county's beleaguered water commission.

Quinn could sign the bill as early as Thursday, Cronin's camp said.

The bill that calls for all 13 members of the commission to be replaced at the end of the year and dissolve a quarter-cent sales tax in five years has been awaiting the governor's signature for months.

Attempts to reach Quinn or a spokesman at the governor's office were unsuccessful Wednesday.

The commission supplies Lake Michigan water to more than two dozen municipalities and agencies in DuPage.

Cronin had pushed a bill that would have turned over control of the utility to the county. That effort was thwarted by lobbying efforts from mayors in those towns served by the commission.

He agreed on a compromise bill instead that cleaned the commission's house and removed the sales tax that generates roughly $30 million a year for the water agency.

The commission is made up of six members representing municipalities and six members representing the county. One member from each camp is chosen from county board's six legislative districts. The chairman's post is chosen by the county board chairman.

Carole Cheney, Cronin's Democratic challenger in the November chairman's race, wants more municipal control over the commission.

The commission came under fire late last year after discovering accounting mistakes as well as poor oversight and management had resulted in the agency spending nearly all of its $69 million reserve fund. The finance administrator was fired and the general manager and treasurer each resigned.

A forensic audit, conducted over several months, cost the commission more than $365,000, but revealed no illegal wrongdoings. The commission borrowed $70 million from two area banks to shore up its finances in the meantime.

Despite the new law that would require commissioners to resign by the start of 2011, there is no provision that says former members can't be reappointed. Several commissioners said they plan to seek reappointment after the new year.