Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen earlier this week outlined what he called an “assault on the contingency fund” during a state of the county speech Tuesday in Sandwich at a Metro West Council gathering.
He said so far this year, the county has $2.8 million in overages in the contingency fund, which is more than the $1.1 million set aside for the fund.
“That’s $3 of overages for every $1 that we set aside,” he said. “We have three times the demand on that contingency, and we’re not even halfway through the year.”
Lauzen said there were some costs that could have been easily avoided, such as calculating the cost of gasoline at $2.27 a gallon – a difference from the actual cost per gallon that totaled $150,000 for the county.
Another contingency cost had to do with retroactive and current portions of the court security collective bargaining agreement, which set the fund back $362,000.
Another $927,500 was not included in the budget for an arbitration award for some sheriff’s employees, even though county officials knew about it in October before the budget had passed.
Another surprise Lauzen has found in his nearly five months on the job was that the county’s CPA and auditor didn’t have access to view budget numbers.
“They didn’t have clearance to go in,” Lauzen said. “We flipped the switches to get their eyeballs on what we’re doing. ... They’ve got to be able to get that information.”
In an effort to improve transparency, Lauzen said he wants the county’s comprehensive annual financial reports to be more understandable.
Lauzen said as a CPA, even he has a hard time understanding what some of the language means in those reports.
He also pointed out that Kane County Government grew at more than twice the rate of taxpayers’ per capita income in the past decade.
Lauzen said he also tried to put Illinois’ financial obligations into perspective, noting that the state’s low credit rating makes it more expensive for smaller forms of government to operate.
“It costs us more money when we go to finance anything. It’s guilt by association,” he said.
“I always emphasize that I’m going to do everything I can to strengthen everything Illinois is doing, but with a focus on Kane County and what I’m doing in my backyard.”