See your Lake County government like never before! The Lake County Board has a budget of $500 million per year, and now, for the first time, their finance and budget meetings will be video-recorded for TV and internet. Join us as Everyday Law discusses this new Government Transparency Initiative with Lake County Board Member Sandra Hart!
Lake County Board member, Sandra Hart of Lake Bluff, discussed the Government Transparency Initiative, which requires the video recording of all Lake County Board committee meetings. Hart became interested in the issue of video recording all County Board committee meetings shortly after becoming a County Board member in 2012. Although the general monthly meetings of the Lake County Board were being recorded and available to the public on CLTV and on the County’s web site, the committee meetings were not video recorded. The importance of committee meetings lies in the discussion that takes place at the committee level; such discussion and exchange of information does not occur at the monthly general County Board meetings.
Hart stated that people today do not trust their government; they feel that taxes are up and services are down and they wonder what they are getting for their tax dollars. The budget of the Lake County Board is over 500 million dollars a year. Hart and a few other County Board members felt the initiative would improve the public’s access to their local county government by offering an opportunity to watch committee meetings at their convenience. In fact, a core value of the Lake County Board is government transparency and accessibility. Additionally, most municipalities already video record their own meetings as does Cook County.
Before these meetings were recorded, the only way that a member of the public could access a Committee meeting was to attend a Committee meeting in person. Such meetings are held during the work day at the Lake County Courthouse in downtown Waukegan; thus, though these meetings are open to the public, few people attend them. With the availability of the recordings of the committee meetings, citizens will be able to look up the agenda and minutes of all meetings of County Board committees on the County’s web site, www.lakecountyil.gov, as well as watch the meetings where the real discussions regarding County issues take place.
Hart feels that County Board members have to be held accountable to the public for their decisions regarding tax dollars. Access to Committee meetings gives citizens of Lake County another tool to hold the County Board accountable for their actions. Moreover, she anticipates that anyone watching the Committee meetings will be pleasantly surprised at how informed County Board members are, as well as how much County Board members care about the issues facing Lake County.