With juvenile abuse and neglect cases on the rise, changes to both the guardian ad litem and public defender positions were approved at the June 26 Tazewell County Board meeting.
In 2015, the county has 124 juvenile abuse and neglect cases. However, in just four years, that number is on track to hit 280 cases this year, according to Chief Public Defender Luke Taylor. In addition, public defenders also have to manage an estimated 838 felony cases in Tazewell County this year.
Currently, the guardian ad litem, which is the attorney that represents the child's best interests in family court, is part-time, being paid $55,000 with health, dental and IMRF benefits. With the board's approval on June 26, the position will become full -time, with a $20,000 salary increase and benefits.
A grant is also being applied for from the Illinois Court Improvement Program to help offset up to 20 percent of the salary and benefits.
To help the public defenders with their increased case load, two unfunded part-time positions are being eliminated for one full-time public defender position, with a proposed salary between $75,000-$85,000, plus benefits.
In other news, the board:
* Tabled a proposal by Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman to lower the number of voting precincts in the county from 135 to 109 and the number of election judges from 1,350 to 1,090. The budget for paying the judges would also decrease from $225,000 to $182,575.
The proposal would put the average number of registered voters in precincts above the Illinois election code maximum of 800, but Ackerman said that number isn't mandatory.
In Peoria County, the average number of registered voters per precinct is 1,104.
Additionally, the proposal also included changes to how election equipment is controlled. Ackerman wants the county to take over storage and distribution of equipment to be able to view the condition of equipment and make polling locations look similar throughout the county.
If the proposal is approved at the July meeting, the redistricting would first be noticed during the March 2020 primary elections.
While the proposal was tabled, Ackerman is still planning to hold scheduled presentations on the redistricting throughout Tazewell County in July.
The meetings will let Ackerman explain why the changes are being made, where those impacted would be able to vote and to answer any questions.
All upcoming township meetings:
- Deer Creek Township - 7 p.m., July 8
- Boynton Township - 9 a.m., July 9
- Hopedale Township - 6:30 p.m., July 9
- Little Mackinaw Township - 7:30 p.m., July 9
- Spring Lake Township - 7 p.m., July 10
- Morton Township - 6 p.m., July 11
- Elm Grove Township - 7 p.m., July 11
- Pekin Township - 4 p.m., July 15
- Groveland Township - 6 p.m., July 15
- Cincinnati Township - 5:30 p.m., July 17
- Dillon Township - 6 p.m., July 17
- Delavan Township - 7 p.m., July 17
- Sand Prairie Township - 7 p.m., July 29
- Tremont Township - 7 p.m., Aug. 12
- Mackinaw Township - 7 p.m., Aug. 13
- Washington Township - 5 p.m., Aug. 14
- Malone Township - 6:30 p.m., Sept. 10