Henry County is one of at least 15 counties in Illinois that employ a county administrator, a position county leaders say, is invaluable.
“We wouldn’t run the way we do without one,” said County Board Chairman Tim Wells, a banker by trade.
“That day-to-day direction is so important. You don’t want to get behind,” he said.
The small county of just 50,000 has had an administrator for decades. Current administrator Colleen Gillaspie earns about $58,000 and Wells says, “earns every dime.”
“The idea of the county administrator, is she’s not political,” Wells said. “She’s key to the day-to-day operations for the county and keeping it under control and managed.”
The county owns a nursing home, that Wells says, “is bought and paid for.”
He says Henry County will be debt-free by the end of 2016.
“And we have 3 million in reserve,” he said.
In 2012, the county board voted to reduce itself in size, from 24 members to 20.
“It seemed to be the thing to do,” he said, citing the selflessness of the board to take the vote it felt was in the best interest of taxpayers.
The county has actively pursued renewable energy industry, including two ethanol plants and wind farms.