Normal, IL. (ECWd) –
It was just a month or so ago that I asked the Heartland Community College to ask the Board of Trustees to reimburse the college for the “gifts” they received, paid for with taxpayer funds, during their regular meeting in December of 2014.
There is not a large amount of money involved, it is the principle of it. Why do the taxpayers need to pay for any gifts to trustees, and especially when the Public Community College Act expressly prohibits it?
I sent the Board a letter asking them to pay back the money spent on gifts, asking them to change their policy that currently allowed reimbursements to “spouses and guests” of trustees, and to change their policy on public comment during meetings. They refused the gift reimbursement, and said they would look at the other two policies.
The Community College Act
Article III, Section 3.7(e):
<span style="font-family: Courier New; font-size: small;">(e) Members of the board <strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">shall serve without compensation</span></strong> but shall be reimbursed for their reasonable expenses incurred in connection with their service as members. Compensation, for purposes of this Section, <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>means any salary or other benefits not expressly authorized by this Act to be provided or paid to, for or on behalf of members of the board.</strong></span> The board of each community college district may adopt a policy providing for the issuance of bank credit cards, for use by any board member who requests the same in writing and agrees to use the card only for the reasonable expenses which he or she incurs in connection with his or her service as a board member. Expenses charged to such credit cards shall be accounted for separately and shall be submitted to the chief financial officer of the district for review prior to being reported to the board at its next regular meeting.</span>
Heartland Community College
The law specifically states the trustees serve without compensation, and then goes on to define compensation as any salary or benefits “not expressly authorized by this Act” that is provided to, paid to, or provided or paid for or on behalf of members of the board.
Please feel free to read the rest of the Act and try to find any express authorization to provide a box of chocolates to the board members. Chocolates are not reasonable expenses incurred in connection with their service as board members. I know what you are thinking, this is chump change, but if they cannot even follow this well-worded paragraph in the statute what else is going on at that school that we are not aware of…yet?
You would think some small measure of personal responsibility would have crept in and the Board would have reimbursed the college – and taxpayers for this Christmas gift. That must be too difficult to do in this situation, because the answer I received was that they did not consider this as compensation.
The Board Minutes for the December 9, 2014 meeting state that “Chocolates were distributed to the Board as a token of appreciation“.
The receipt for the chocolates shows that $92.72 was spent and the college reimbursed the purchaser for the purchase – meaning the taxpayers paid for the chocolates (receipt and check here).
This is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.