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April 25, 2024

Coles County -Insufficient reporting keeps citizens in the dark – Part VII

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On August 8, 2018

Coles Co. (ECWd) –

Again, we had to extend the series as exposure to more insufficient information has come to light.  Our goal is to ensure the people are being provided sufficient information to fully understand what is really going on in Coles County with the property tax scandal.

See Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V and Part VI to follow the chain of events that show why the local reporting is so insufficient and how out of control the Coles County officials are.

August 6, 2018, Article:  “County payroll records showed and officials confirmed that Becker was paid $100 per hour for work on assessment appeals at the county and state level.”

Yep, that is what the records show but the public should also be made aware that there is no provision in the law for the Board of Review, which is who handles assessment appeals, to hire anyone for consulting, which is how the pay was classified.

August 6, 2018, Article: “That was in addition to the $115,000 fee he’s receiving over four years to conduct the reassessment project, which is now about at its half-way point.”

Fee?  What kind of employee gets a fee?  The State’s Attorney said he was hired by the Supervisor of Assessments (SOA) and that he was an employee.  Better question, what kind of employee gets a $115,000.00 fee for his employment?

The fact of the matter is the $115K was for a contract that the County Board never had the authority to enter into, let alone make payments for.

August 6, 2018, Article: “Last week, State’s Attorney Brian Bower said research he conducted indicated the additional payments weren’t appropriate because they didn’t get specific authorization from the Coles County Board.”

So if the payments weren’t appropriate, what action is being taken to recover the inappropriate payments?

August 6, 2018, Article: “When contacted for comment, Becker mirrored what county board Chairman Stan Metzger said earlier about allowing the additional pay.”

“Namely, Metzger said, the funds were in the Supervisor of Assessment’s Office’s budget so the thinking was the appropriation didn’t need additional approval.”

Wow! Payments of taxpayer funds going out the door and these people, specifically County Board Chairman Stan Metzger, is of the opinion such payments didn’t need approval?

Mr. Metzger, PLEASE resign!

Local paper, find a new reporter! 

I urge that resignation of the County Chairman because the very law the County Board is required to follow pertaining to the Board of Appeals specifically requires County Board authorization for expenditures for the Board of Appeals.

“In the performance of its duties, the board of appeals may incur such expenditures as are authorized by the county board. “

Considering the County Chairman did not think any Board action was necessary tells us he is not familiar with the laws he is required to uphold.

(55 ILCS 5/3-10014 Payment of money. No money or funds shall be paid out of any county treasury, except in accordance with an order of the county board, or when payment is specially authorized by law to be made. 

Considering there is no specially authorized law for consulting payments for the Board of Appeals, those payments require action by the County Board.

August 6, 2018, Article: “I don’t think it’s the county board’s decision to authorize it or not authorize it,” Becker said. He declined to make additional comments on Bower’s conclusion.”

So the guy they contracted with, that they think is the know-all in assessments, does not think it’s the County Board’s place to authorize or not authorize, how special.  Mr. Becker, a little research would have prevented such an ignorant statement.  Sadly, the local paper missed a great opportunity to expose this ignorance of our laws.

August 6, 2018, Article: “Complaints and criticism arose after the county decided in 2015 to reassess all commercial and industrial property because that classification hadn’t received new values since a countywide reassessment in 2001.”

Reassess all commercial and industrial property?  ALL?  The complaints and criticism came because only one township was assessed, which put a higher tax burden on those taxpayers while others that have shared public services benefited by not being assessed. Sure, they have a plan to do them “all” in four years, but that is not what was reported.

August 6, 2018, Article: “Assessments are the duty of the County Supervisor of Assessment’s Office and state law allows an outside contractor only at the township assessment level, according to the group.”

According to the group? Yes, that is what the Concerned Taxpayers Group said but failed to also point out that it is also what the law says leaves the readers with insufficient information.

Don’t take my word for it, read it yourself. 

 (b) In the alternative, a township or multi-township assessment district shall contract with a person qualified as required under Section 2-45 or as revised by the Department under Section 2-52 to do the assessing at a cost no greater than the maximum salary authorized for that township or multi-township assessment district under Section 2-70. 

There is no provision in any Illinois state law for the County or the SOA to contract a person to do assessments.

August 6, 2018, Article: “Bower said his position on Becker’s hiring remains the same. He said he believes it was legal but, as the Concerned Taxpayers have filed lawsuits against the county, that determination will ultimately be up to the courts.”

Yes, we know the State’s Attorney’s position but is it asking too much to inquire as to what Illinois State Law allows for the SOA or the County Board to contract a person to perform the duties of the SOA?  When you don’t ask key questions and stick to only reporting quotes it is insufficient information.

August 6, 2018, Article: “However, he said whether his future decisions will be made public will be based on the need to “balance” his attorney-client privilege with the county board with other factors.”

Once again, the attorney is confused.  Attorney-client privilege belongs to the client, not the attorney.  It is the client that determines what privilege will be broken.  Again, quoting the State’s Attorney (SA) and not fact checking who owns the privilege leads people to believe that such privilege is at the hands of the SA when in fact it is not.

August 6, 2018, Article: “The work took place in 2016 and 2017 but Becker didn’t request the additional compensation until this year, both he and Biddle said.”

So the public is expected to believe a person worked for free in 2016, 2017 and simply didn’t request the additional compensation until this year?


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