By Bob Balgemann
POPLAR GROVE – After talking about it for more than one year, village officials are on the verge of changing to a committee of the whole (COTW) format for monthly meetings.
The village board voted 6-0 March 14 to send the issue back to the administration committee, for the drafting of an ordinance by Village Attorney Jim Stevens. Then, it will return to the board for final action.
Plans call for abolishing the administration and finance committees and replacing them with a COTW. That panel would consist of the six village board trustees, who would make recommendations to themselves, sitting as the village board, at a separate meeting.
Village Administrator Diana Dykstra suggests there be two COTW meetings each month. One would be held the second Monday and focus on finance and public works matters. The other would be the third Monday, dealing with administration and zoning issues.
The village board would meet the fourth Monday and act on recommendations.
“The cost for each committee meeting for the board of trustees is $50 each, and the (village) clerk is $125,” she stated in a memorandum to the board. “The schedule of adding one additional committee meeting for all members would cost $5,700 annually.”
Trustees last discussed the possible change during their September 2015 meeting. It was agreed to revisit the issue early in 2016.
That led to the administration committee reviewing the matter on Feb. 22 and voting to forward it to the village board, for more discussion.
Village officials for some time have been concerned that their committee meetings took too long. That same concern was expressed about committee of the whole meetings, what with six trustees along with the village president being at each one.
But the two existing committees have shortened their meetings by curtailing comments from the audience, which used to be made randomly and, often, without being recognized by the chairperson.
Elected officials sometimes attend one or both of the committee meetings and they no longer get involved with discussions among those at the table. That’s because it was determined such exchanges likely violated the state’s Open Meetings Act regulations, and could result in problems for the village, should someone file a complaint.
Fence replacement
Also at the March 14 meeting, the board agreed to replace sections of an aging fence along Illinois 173 at Lions Park.
Dykstra explained some portions of the fence were damaged last year, while work was being done at village well No. 3.
“The village should replace the fence as part of the ownership and care of our property,” she said. In addition, there was the need for an access gate to the well house.
The board approved the low bid from dcfFence in Rockford for $9,289, including $410 for the well barrier gate. Public works staff determined they could remove and dispose of the existing fence without further cost.

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