Shelby Co. (ECWd) -
Shelby County Board has been having regular budget meetings and it is clear they have a serious shortfall needing to be addressed. One suggestion was a 30% budget cut for all county offices.
The last audit reflects the County spent $917,510.00 more than they received, known as deficit spending. (See page 11 of the Audit)
A copy of the audio of the most recent Budget Committee meeting can be listened to at this link. The meeting was just over an hour but we assure you listening to the entire meeting will shed light on the problems facing Shelby County with the biggest, in our opinion, being the lack of legal guidance from the State's Attorney. Brief discussions included questions of how to get rid of the State's Attorney.
With months of being told, meeting after meeting, that there was massive payroll fraud, upwards of $500,000.00, and a County Chairman that filed false claims and getting paid for meetings that never even took place (article here), not one member of the Budget Committee said a word about recovering any of those funds as a possible solution to the budget shortfalls. We note that when the State's Attorney gave herself an illegal pay raise those funds were recovered in monthly installments through payroll deduction. There is no reason that the same practice can't happen for all of those who received compensation not legally earned.
A few months ago the push was for a forensic audit of the payroll fraud. Those talks have vanished from the meetings and been replaced with ongoing attacks of the very person who uncovered most of the fraud, to include a push to strip the Treasurer of the very duties that uncovered those matters.
County Farm Ground taxes are due yet no action has been taken to recover those taxes from the leaseholder of the farm ground. We covered the farm ground tax issue in this article back in February and nothing has been done to address the problem, even though they have been informed by the County Clerk the County cannot pay those taxes as was done in the past.
In addition to moving towards a 30% cut across the board, the County Board will be drafting a public comment policy in order to restrict the public's comments to 3 minutes each. Each and every time we expose public body failures, one of the first steps they take is to limit the people's speech. This will not solve their problems. As part of the discussion on the public comment restrictions, one board member can be heard claiming Edgar County has a 3-minute policy. That is not correct. Edgar County has a 5-minute public comment policy which has worked out well over the years.
The next County Board meeting is scheduled for July 8th, 2020 at 9 am.