Boards, commissions need members

Boards, commissions need members

URBANA — A number of boards and commissions in Champaign County government are looking for a few good men and women.

Over the next 12 months the county board will be making appointments to the county board of review, zoning board of appeals, county forest preserve board, nursing home board, county board of health, housing authority board, developmental disabilities board, at least 14 fire protection districts, three water districts, the Urbana & Champaign Sanitary District, at least 35 drainage district boards, at least three cemetery boards and a few more panels.

Most of the board members serve without pay.

"The appointments are quite extensive and they run the gamut of everything from health care to Lincoln's Legacy (committee)," said county board Chair Alan Kurtz. "It's quite a list and I have to go over each one of these and make an appointment."

Kurtz said he generally interviews the candidates only when there are two or more applicants for the same post.

"Most of them are individual applicants for a drainage district or a fire protection district where they live and have worked for a number of years and where you usually get just one application," said Kurtz.

A list of current board and commission vacancies is on the county's web site (, as well as a list of upcoming vacancies and an appointment application form.

Some panels require more expertise and more time than others, Kurtz noted.

"We need people to step up and volunteer for these positions because they are important positions, they are part of government, and we'd like people to give back to the community by volunteering for some of these positions," he said.

"Some of them take expertise. For instance, the (zoning board of appeals). You can't just put anybody on the zoning board of appeals. The work there is quiet extensive. If you've ever sat in on a ZBA meeting, there are reams of paper and issues that they have to go through. Not only do they have to go through it, but they have to understand how the zoning and ordinances apply to each one of these cases, and then they have to deliberate and make a decision. That takes some real expertise."

ZBA members, according to county zoning administrator John Hall, are paid $100 per meeting. They must live in the unincorporated area (the county's zoning jurisdiction), and state law says that there can be no more than one ZBA member from any given township. Since the zoning board currently has members from Newcomb, Hensley, Tolono, Sidney, Urbana and Somer townships, the next ZBA member (there is a current vacancy) must live in one of the other 23 townships in Champaign County.

A ZBA member also cannot be a drainage district commissioner, school board member or township supervisor, Hall said.

Another significant appointment coming up is to the county board of review, the three-member panel that reviews property assessments.

Under a little-known state law, Democratic board member Laura Sandefur will have to be replaced this spring by a Republican. The statute says that the "bubble" member of the board is selected based on the countywide candidate who received the most votes in a contested race in the last general election. This year that honor goes to the GOP, based on the 40,941 votes that Recorder of Deeds Barb Frasca, a Republican, received in November.

Board of review members must be qualified by virtue of experience and training in property appraisal and property tax administration, and must pass an examination that will be offered March 1 at the county's Brookens Center by the Illinois Department of Revenue.