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Lee County officials inquire about funds

Panel wants to know protocols

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 11:21 a.m. CDT

DIXON - Lee County Board members are asking department heads about what their restricted funds are being used for.

Arlan McClain, the chairman of the board's finance committee, said Tuesday that his panel's members want to know what the protocols are for each fund.

"We don't want a dissertation. We just want notes on how we can spend money in restricted funds," McClain said in an interview.

The request comes as neighboring Ogle County is dealing with a controversy over the sheriff's off-budget "administrative tow fund" and credit card use.

McClain, R-Dixon, said the Ogle County situation didn't inspire his committee's request, but he said he asked around after he heard about the issues in the neighboring county.

What did he find out?

"All the funds go through the treasurer's office - to my knowledge," McClain said.

The Ogle County situation came about as the result of stories in Sauk Valley Media in December.

Ogle County Sheriff Michael Harn has wide discretion over use of the off-budget tow fund, created a couple of years ago. He used it for car repairs, a consultant to update the department's Facebook page and flowers for employees, among other things.

Only recently was it found that other sources of revenue besides $350-per-car tow fees are going into the fund. That was something the county revealed after Sauk Valley Media compared the fund's total revenue with the number of cars towed.

The Ogle County Sheriff's Department also spent thousands of dollars on its credit card at local restaurants for "training." Harn used the card for personal purchases, which he later reimbursed.

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