Revenue Generation (savings) in Edgar County – Part 6
We decided to run this story ahead of the original part 6 we had scheduled as the events that took place at the county board meeting this week more than justify the urgency of getting this information out.
Have we just witnessed the way our elected officials handle our tax money? Is it any different than what we are seeing in Washington on a federal level? Did you vote for these people?
Many were shocked to see what transpired from Mr. Farnhams motion to not pay the bills of several departments because they are over budget. Interestingly he failed to mention that the county board was over budget during his initial listing of departments over budget. Yes, he mentioned it later but I find it odd that he made no mention of it while he rambled about departments being over budget. Does it disturb anyone that his action were even a surprise to the County Board Chairman? He talks about working with departments on their budgets yet clearly has said nothing to his own Chairman about his plans to not pay bills.
What happens to any of us when we don’t pay our bills on time? Late fees, higher interest, credit rating affected are just a few. Is it ok to simply ignore your bills for a month and pay them next month? Is that how your family budget operates? In some cases we have to shuffle bills from one month to another but I can say from personal experience the best way to do it is “know” what bills will have the biggest negative impact on your finances and most importantly contact those people you owe and explain the situation so that you can avoid late fees, higher interest and even an impact on your credit rating.
With tax dollars you’re going to find there is a law for just about every action that can be taken. Does Edgar County follow the law? Do they even know the law? The action in this week’s board meeting would tell me that they have never read the law that pertains to the paying of bills.
(50 ILCS 505/3) (from Ch. 85, par. 5603)
Sec. 3. The appropriate local governmental official or agency receiving goods or services must approve or disapprove a bill from a vendor or contractor for goods or services furnished the local governmental agency within 30 days after the receipt of such bill or within 30 days after the date on which the goods or services were received, whichever is later.
Sec. 4. Any bill approved for payment pursuant to Section 3 shall be paid within 30 days after the date of approval. If payment is not made within such 30 day period, an interest penalty of 1% of any amount approved and unpaid shall be added for each month or fraction thereof after the expiration of such 30 day period, until final payment is made.
Board member Jeff Voigt was the ONLY member who raised the concern of not paying bills and what effect it will have financially on the county. Notice in the video that after Jeff’s question was raised, Karl did not even know what possible bills would be impacted pertaining to demand bills such as electric, water etc. After a cursory look through a document he tossed it on the table and restated his motion, clearly not concerned with answering a very valid question presented to him.
Do we now have several county board members that blindly support a motion even after a Board Members question is not answered? Farnhams only response was “their might have been a Verizon bill or Frontier bill”.
Might have been? He is making a motion to not pay bills, which appears to violate the Prompt Payment Act, and doesn’t know what bills may cause more expense to the county?
When budgets are blown its wrong and has to be legally addressed but punting those bills to the next fiscal budget year is neither the way to fix the problem nor the legal path to follow.
How did this happen pretty much county wide? The budgets approved for 2011 was done so I believe in November of 2010. We hope at least it was adopted prior to December of 2010 as that is when fiscal year begins. That budget was cut 10% across the board after approval because of lack of revenue coming in from what I was told. Had that 10% cut by the county board not been implemented some of the county departments would not have been over budget. Is it fair to mention some of those budgets were not prepared by the elected official that took office December 1, 2010?
The key to understanding this chain of events is that the lack of revenue is what stemmed the cut to the budgets after they were approved. Trying to put the blame on any department is hardly fair when you don’t share all the facts and I think it’s pretty sad when the County Board, who is in charge of our tax dollars, goes over budget as well.
What can be done to fix this? It’s simple. First read the law that pertains to the job you’re doing! That would solve “most” problems. The reason I say most is that reading it is only one part of the equation. The second part is accepting the rule of law! So far we are not seeing that with some of these people in many cases.
According to state law,
At any point following the adoption of the annual budget, if the county board determines by a 2/3 vote of all members constituting such board, that revenue received, or to be received, by the county during the then present fiscal year totals an amount substantially less than that projected at the time of adoption of the annual budget for that fiscal year, such board, by like vote, may adopt an amended budget for the remainder of the then present fiscal year. The authority of the county board to amend the annual appropriation ordinance at any point during the fiscal year shall be the same as its authority to determine and adopt the original annual budget; such amended budget shall be prepared as otherwise provided in this Section.”
If the County board were to hold an Emergency meeting they still have time to adopt an amendment to the budget, as outlined by state law and pay the bills. That solves several issues.
1. Compliance with the Prompt Payment Act.
2. Saves the county penalties for late payments mandated by law.
3. Shows the public they know what the law is and actually follow it.
4. Prevents BLOWING the next year’s budget!
Why take this action? Considering all the hard work that the Budget chairman, Jeff Voigt, has placed into ensuring we have a balanced budget for 2012, it only makes sense to first follow the law ensuring bills from 2011 and appropriated in 2011 are paid from the 2011 budget, but more importantly, why on earth would you pass on almost 30K in bills to the next year and blow that budget that for the first time in years is balanced, not to mention again the fees that go with that action?
Didn’t we just witness Karl Farnham expressing his concern of people going over budget? Yet he now wants to start the year of with a bang! Let’s blow next year’s budget? What on earth is he thinking? Speculation from many is that he wanted to send a message to department heads and “hurt” them by not paying bills. If that is the case may we suggest it’s time to grow up and quit playing games with the people’s money over stupid personal disputes? The only one hurt by his actions is "we the tax payer" and the vendors that are WAITING for their money.
It appears what has happen is we have a County Board member, Karl Farnham, who has never read the law pertaining to his action and if he has he doesn’t want to follow the law, or is more interested in grandstanding than fixing the problem properly. You be the judge.
Although this may not technically be Revenue Generation, it can be a revenue saver which is just as important and all that has to be done is simply follow the law!
Why have the laws on the books if we are not going to follow them or enforce them?
Stay tuned for Pat 7