McHenry County Improves Transparency with Searchable Database of Ordinances
WOODSTOCK, Ill. – McHenry County has taken another giant leap for transparency by putting all of its ordinances into a searchable page on county government’s website.
The page, which is accessible through the county’s website at www.co.mchenry.il.us, allows taxpayers and job creators easy and free access to the county’s development, health, licensing, building, zoning and other ordinances. The County Board voted Tuesday evening to officially approve the renumbering and reorganizing of county ordinances as part of this initiative.
“For years, McHenry County made it very difficult for people to look up the laws that the county expects them to follow – one newspaper article likened the process to navigating a maze. Correcting this oversight brings McHenry County closer to becoming the most open and transparent county government in the nation,” County Board Chairman Jack Franks, D-Marengo, said.
The change is the result of bipartisan cooperation between Franks, Republican State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally and County Board member Mary McCann, R-Woodstock, who pushed for the change.
Last year, McCann told Franks shortly after he took office that only the Health, Planning and Development, and Purchasing departments hosted online copies of the ordinances they enforce. Finding other ordinances required an intense search and knowledge of the ordinance number, the date of County Board approval, or the agenda item number. McCann and Franks coordinated with Kenneally’s office, which reorganized county ordinances to make them easy to review prior to the creation of the online search page.
“At my first County Board meeting 12 years ago, I brought up the need to have all of our ordinances in one location on the county website rather than scattered throughout it. But despite my efforts over the years, nothing ever moved forward. I am glad that Chairman Franks and Mr. Kenneally made this a priority and moved this forward for the people of McHenry County,” McCann said.
“As a nation of laws, government has a duty to the people it humbly serves to ensure that the public can easily find and review those laws. There simply was no excuse for a county of McHenry County’s size to not have a user-friendly code of ordinances that is easy to access. I am honored that my office was able to play a part in making county government more accessible and transparent,” Kenneally said.
The creation of the online ordinance portal is the latest in a series of steps taken over the past year by Franks and the County Board to improve transparency. The County Board since 2017 has expanded audio streaming to include all of its standing committees, begun video streaming of Committee of the Whole and full County Board voting meetings, and implemented an electronic voting system that gives constituents the ability to follow the voting records of their representatives, both in real time and archived.