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Kane board hashes out Sauceda animal control appointment

GENEVA – The man who could be Kane County's next animal control administrator received ringing endorsements from a number of Kane County Board members, even as others continued to question how it was that he came to be Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen's choice for the job.

Tuesday, the Kane County Board's Public Health Committee discussed Lauzen's nomination of Robert Sauceda, essentially promoting him from animal control's billing manager to the top spot within the department.

Lauzen had presented the nomination to the County Board earlier this month. But many board members opposed it, asking why they were not involved in the selection process.

The board narrowly voted to postpone a vote on the nomination until November.

The matter was raised at the Public Health Committee by committee chairman Monica Silva, D-Aurora, who wanted to give the committee members an opportunity to discuss the matter.

County Board member Myrna Molina, D-Aurora, asked for a more detailed explanation as to why county officials changed the job description for the administrator between January and August to remove a preference for candidates with "a public health background."

Kane County Board member Deborah Allan, D-Elgin, asked whether Barbara Jeffers, executive director of the Kane County Health Department, had asked the three interviewed candidates what their "vision" for the department might be.

Jeffers replied that she and Lauzen believed that such "vision" should be left to the County Board, while the animal control administrator should be skilled at keeping the department afloat financially.

That task came front and center throughout this year, after Lauzen appointed Sauceda as animal control's billing manager. Since then, county officials have credited Sauceda with restoring the troubled department's financial footing.

According to a report submitted by Jeffers to the board Tuesday, animal control has increased its revenue year-to-date through September by more than 25 percent vs. 2012.

With that in mind, other committee members spoke strongly in favor of Sauceda's appointment, dismissing concerns over his previous lack of experience with animal control and emphasizing the department's financial performance.

"The person who is in there now has proven he can bring in the money, and has been successful," said County Board member Susan Starrett, R-Batavia. "To me, that's the bottom line."

Silva agreed. She said had cast what essentially was the deciding vote to postpone the matter during the full County Board meeting on Oct. 8 only to allow board members who had lingering questions over Sauceda's appointment to voice their concerns fully.

"For me, the bottom line is, are services being delivered? And the next thing is: Is the money coming in?" Silva said. "If they are, I really don't care who is in that position."

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