Government spending: Comparing treasurers
Whiteside's office has many more parcels
DIXON – The Whiteside County treasurer’s office deals with thousands more of parcels of land than does Lee County’s. But the Whiteside treasurer’s budget is smaller.
Lee County Treasurer John Fritts is asking the County Board for permission to fill a soon-to-be-vacant position. Some board members, however, say they have reservations.
Tuesday, the board delayed a decision until next month.
Fritts said his office’s responsibilities are similar to those of its counterpart in Whiteside. He also said the number of parcels of land in a county indicates how much work a treasurer’s office has.
Whiteside has 37,000 parcels to Lee’s 30,000, yet the Whiteside treasurer’s budget is $146,595, significantly less than Lee’s $183,311.
Both offices have three full-time employees. Lee has a permanent part-time employee and a seasonal one, while Whiteside has a 2-week-a-year seasonal employee.
Ogle and Carroll counties also have bigger budgets than Whiteside, although they, too, deal with fewer parcels, 29,000 and 13,000 respectively.
The Ogle treasurer’s budget is $185,500, with two-full time and three part-time employees. Carroll’s is $194,234, with four full-time employees.
Carroll County Treasurer Diane Powers emphasized that treasurers’ duties vary by county. When Carroll County had no county administrator, she said, many budgeting items went through her office.
Fritts contends he needs the third full-time position for checks and balances in the county’s finances. Top County Board members remain unconvinced.
Rick Ketchum, D-Amboy, chairman of the board’s Finance Committee, said the treasurer’s office doesn’t need a third full-time position, which pays $25,000 a year.
He suggested the county could get the office more part-time help if the board cuts the full-time position.
The county would have to take a close look at the office, he said.
Ketchum and others are looking for places to cut the budget as they anticipate $1 million less in annual revenue, starting next year. That’s because the county expects landfill revenue to plunge after a contractual provision expires next year.
The Lee treasurer’s office isn’t the only instance in county government in which a department’s budget exceeds its Whiteside counterpart.
A few weeks ago, Sauk Valley Media found that Lee County spends $114,000 a year for its coroner’s office, more than Whiteside County’s budget of 107,000.
Whiteside County’s population is 60 percent greater than Lee County’s. In the past fiscal year, Whiteside dealt with 70 percent more deaths than Lee County – 478 to 281.
The Lee County coroner’s budget doesn’t appear to be a target for cuts, but the treasurer’s office is, by no means, alone.
Recently, the Finance Committee met in closed session to consider a Sheriff’s Department request for more investigatory help.
The panel met behind closed doors because it planned to discuss specific personnel, which is allowed under the state Open Meetings Act.
The department is two road deputies short and another is on leave because of an injury, so a detective has been working as a road deputy, Varga said.
State’s Attorney Henry Dixon has said the lack of manpower is impeding investigations.
Ketchum said he doesn’t see a need to fill the two positions. Besides, he said, the county can’t afford them.
“We’d take a harder look if we had more money,” he said Tuesday.
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