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Coroner criticized for car choice

Published: Thursday, March 20, 2014 11:22 p.m. CDT

GENEVA – After another meeting of explaining his decisions to County Board members, Kane County Coroner Rob Russell on Thursday said that everything he does seems to get excessively scrutinized.

Russell plans to spend $45,000 of his 2014 budget on a Chevrolet Suburban to replace an existing vehicle. Members of the Administration Committee criticized his choice.

Drew Frasz, R-Elburn, said he understands the reasons for the replacement, but he is concerned about replacing a full-sized van with a four-wheel drive, “gas guzzling” SUV. The vehicle will be expensive to own and operate, he said.

Doug Scheflow, R-Elgin, was concerned that Russell picked a vehicle from a car dealership and not one eligible for state pricing. Russell said it is important that he has internal control to decide which vehicle his office needs.

He said he needs a vehicle that can navigate various conditions since bodies are sometimes found in such places as forest preserves, where the terrain can be muddy.

The goal is to get the vehicle as close to the body as possible, he said.

Myrna Molina, D-Aurora, said Russell’s approved budget included the vehicle replacement, and it was up to the committee to make sure he followed procedure.

“If he thinks he needs a helicopter, we have no say in it,” Frasz said.

Theresa Barreiro, D-Aurora, said she agreed with Molina in some respects but told Russell that this purchase could come up during future discussions about needing money to fix equipment. She cited the broken morgue freezer from last year as an example.

“I have money,” Russell said.

The committee ultimately approved Russell’s request.

In other news, the committee also forwarded a proposed 5 percent raise for Chief Information Officer Roger Fahnestock forward. Molina and Scheflow voted no.

Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen presented details about the proposed raise in a meeting last month. He did not speak to the committee Thursday.

Fahnestock’s raise is one of nine proposed for various county directors.

The County Board is expected to vote on the increases in April.

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