Lincolnwood referendum seeks to make clerk appointed post
Updated: March 24, 2012 8:14AM
When Village Clerk Beryl Herman ends her seven-year run as the record keeper and voter registrar for Lincolnwood in May 2013, it could be the first time since the inception of the original Village Code in 1911 that a village clerk isn’t elected to fulfill the position.
That’s because on the March 20 municipal election it will be up to voters to decide whether to change the village clerk position from an elected one to an appointed one — a move many neighboring municipalities have made over recent years.
The question on the referendum will ask voters to decide if the clerk should be appointed by the Village President and the Board of Trustees. In actuality, if the measure is approved, the duties would likely be dispersed to the village manager, deputy clerks and other village staff instead of choosing one person to handle the job, said Trustee Lawrence Elster.
Herman, who is employed part time, is paid $8,000 per year for her role, which requires her to keep board meeting minutes, issue village permits, register voters and keep official records. If the change is made, the village manager would not receive a raise and the $8,000 in annual taxpayer money would be saved, Elster said.
Filing cabinets and alphabetized manila folders a thing of the past, technology upgrades over the past decade have replaced hand filing with paperless electronic record keeping — a method that is less time consuming, leaving the village clerk with less work to do.
Neighboring communities Deerfield, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Northfield, Wilmette and Winnetka all have eliminated the village clerk position over the past several years in an effort to cut corners wherever possible.
“The way technology has taken over, it doesn’t require someone to be in the office working full-time (as village clerk) anymore,” Herman said. “Technology has made maintaining files — which is a big part of the job — much easier, so it’s just not a full-time job anymore.”
Herman said she supports the potential elimination of her position, and said her job duties would be well-handled by the more technical-proficient staff members.
“You need someone who is very tech-savvy, and that’s not me,” Herman said.
The referendum measure follows a series of changes made to the outdated Village Code last month. Some of those modifications include corrections to inconsistencies to state laws and some adjustments to certain fees and regulations. The code was last updated in 1977 before those changes were adopted in December.
Among the changes was also the replacement of the village administrator position with a new title — village manager. The updates went into effect Jan. 1.
Trustees began considering putting the decision on a referendum after several staff and community members brought up the point that many surrounding communities have done the same thing in recent years, Elster said.
“I don’t know if it will pass — our position is not to take a position on a referendum, and let the residents decide what’s best in this case,” Elster said.
The village will host a public meeting to discuss the issue at 7 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Village Hall, 6900 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincolnwood.