The subregional Councils of Mayors (COMs) are defined by specific geographic boundaries — six in suburban Cook County and one for each of the five collar counties.
The Kane/Kendall Council of Mayors also includes Kendall County and the urbanized portions of DeKalb County. The Will Council includes the urbanized portions of Grundy County. The individual councils range in membership from 12 to 47 municipalities. The organization and structure of the individual councils varies greatly from area to area, and in many parts of the region Council of Mayors boundaries often coincide with municipal Conference or Council of Government (COG) boundaries. Three of the COMs are housed within and staffed by the county division of transportation.
The region has nine regional municipal associations, or COGs. They exist to promote subregional coordination and collaboration between municipalities on a broader range of issues. Together with the City of Chicago, the COGs are members of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (MMC), which is a forum for mayors to collaborate on broad regional issues.
Each Council of Mayors receives an annual allocation of local Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds and is responsible for programming those funds according to their own STP methodology. Council projects must meet all federal eligibility requirements, including being located on a federal-aid eligible route, and must be sponsored and implemented by a local community within the council.
Each Council of Mayors has a least one staff person designated as a planning liaison (PL). PLs are the primary link between CMAP and the suburban mayors and are directly responsible for the programming of locally sponsored, federally funded projects in the CMAP Transportation Improvement Program. PLs are the primary contact for local agencies and coordinate the implementation of federally funded projects, including STP-L, CMAQ, BRR, Safe Routes to Schools, Enhancement (ITEP) and Transportation Alternatives Program projects, with municipalities and IDOT.
The subregional councils establish their own meeting schedules, by-laws, structure and policies; however certain caveats are placed on the councils as the managers of federal transportation funds. The councils must include all local governments eligible for STP funding, regardless of membership within any coinciding conference or COG. The councils meet regularly for cooperative discussion and decision-making on issues needing a subregional consensus before being brought to the COM Executive Committee for a regional debate. These meetings provide a useful forum for regional transportation and planning agencies (such as Pace, Metra, CMAP) to report to the local governments and to get local input.