Many residents of Chicago suburbs use Chicago’s structure as the basis for understanding local government. In reality, suburban government is very different from Chicago government.
In Chicago, the Mayor appoints the board of education for the entire City and the Park Board. This is not the case in most suburbs. In the suburbs, government is fragmented.
In Harvey, the schools are operated by independent-elected school boards. Harvey is served principally by School Districts 147 and 152. However, School Districts 143 and 151 serve parts of the City as well.
Each School District has its own elected Board of Education which sets policy (rules and regulation) that are carried out by the administrators, teachers and support staff on a daily basis. High School education (District 205) operates Thornton, Thornridge and Thornwood. Unlike Chicago, the Mayor does not appoint any of these governing boards.
The same is true for parks and recreation, as well as the library. The Harvey Park District is the governing body for the Park District. The Harvey Public Library is also a separate governing entity. Both the library and park district are elected by registered voters and independent of the City (Municipal) government.
This makes for an interesting situation, as the Harvey residents think of Harvey’s taxes as being the result of the City of Harvey. In reality, between 23% and 26% of the total tax bills is the City of Harvey, depending on which School District a property is located within.
The rest of taxes are set independently by the various School Districts, County, Park District, Library, the Fire and Police pension funds, inspections, trash pick-up (partial), street repair, lot and alley maintenance, sidewalk, tree trimming, sewer clearing, demolition, collections, etc.
The City (municipal government) has a new form of government: the aldermanic form. For most of its history, Harvey operated under the commission form of government.
In 1991, the municipal government began operating under the aldermanic system of government. Under this system, the City is divided into six wards. Each ward is represented by an alderman who serves as a legislator in the City Council.
Citizens are encouraged to learn all they can about each unit of government and to get involved. Citizens involvement is vital to improve a city. We can not have a different city with indifferent people.