‘That’s right, you read it here. Let’s dispense with the suspense and give you the bottom line of this posting right now’….that’s how we started our April 27 posting titled “Naperville has too many city council members” and we stated ‘the Naperville city council has too many council members (eight not including the mayor) for a city of our size (141,000 residents). And we proceeded to support our statement with the numbers of council members from various cities along with comparable populations. Now that’s not what needs to be corrected. What we need to correct is the fact that we said the city of Naperville needs to and can reduce the number of council members from eight to four or five. Now we still believe that would be prudent, however the bottom line fact of the matter is that the laws of the State of Illinois dictate the number of council members a municipality needs to have; it is not a decision that can be made by the citizens or the city council of that municipality with a simple referendum. So even though Naperville was able to pass referendums for term limits and the creation of wards or district representation to replace at-large representation, we don’t have the luxury of reducing the number of council members Naperville has with a referendum.
The first person to bring this to our attention with a considerate email was Councilman Grant Wehrli. We then contacted Naperville city attorney Margo Ely who explained it was her understanding that council number is based on Illinois law, but did not site the specific law.
Providing this information to the city council guard dog, research into the Naperville municipal code (http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=14853&stateId=13&stateName=Illinois) began again. Naperville municipal code (section 1-5-1 – Powers and functions of the of the Mayor and city council) states “The City Council shall consist of the Mayor and eight (8) Councilmen elected for four-year terms as provided by State law”. This statement references 65 ILCS 5/5-2-2 that outlines the maximum number of aldermen, when not elected by the minority representation plan. The second reference 65 ILCS 5/5-2-8 discusses staggered terms and tenure. When attending seventh grade English class in Naperville I was told that I must site my sources properly. Had the constructors of this section of the municipal code taken that seventh grade English course as I did, they would have also sited 65 ILCS 5/5-2-12. Please note the screen shots of the Naperville municipal code below. – City Council Guard Dog
Looking for a second opinion for confirmation, we also contacted Illinois State Senator Dan Duffy (R-26, Lake Barrington). He responded immediately and asked his administrative assistant (Cindy) to research the topic ‘if Illinois state law limits the number of council members a municipality has on its city council’ and Cindy along with State Senator Dan Duffy confirmed ‘Yes, the council number is restricted by Illinois law.
(65 ILCS 5/5-2-12 subsection (b) determines the number of council members)
In cities of at least 100,000 but not more than 500,000 population, the council shall consist of the mayor and 8 council members.
So Watchdog stands corrected by Naperville city councilman Grant Wehrli, Naperville city attorney Margo Ely, and the office of Illinois State Senator Dan Duffy.
Now with the record set straight, it still begs the questions, how is it that the city councils of Dayton, Ohio, Hollywood, Florida, Ft. Collins, Colorado, and Pasadena, California with comparable populations get the same amount of work done with fewer council members than Naperville? And how is it that the individual council members of Phoenix, Arizona, San Diego, California, and Seattle, Washington can represent so many more residents per council member than those of the Naperville city council? We may have to research elsewhere to get those questions answered.