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State's attorney: per diem letters in mail soon : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
State's attorney: per diem letters in mail soon
Repayment sought from 11 current, former county board members

by Matt Schury

5/15/2014

Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis said Tuesday his office plans to send out 11 demand letters this week seeking compensation from former and current County Board members who claimed meeting per diem payments in error.

Weis told the board's Per Diem Ad Hoc Committee during their final meeting that his office expects Amy Cesich, the chairman of the committee, to sign the letters today (Thursday) and to put them in the mail this Friday.

Per the committee's instructions, the letter will be made public five business days later. Cesich said she and the committee wanted to give the 11 board members enough time to get the letters and see what they owe the county before hearing about it through the media or members of the public.

Weis stressed that even though the letters may contain a dollar amount the county is seeking in reimbursements it is bound to change as the individuals have a chance to defend themselves against what the committee concluded they owe based on a lengthy audit.

Current board members included in the audit and investigation are John Purcell, Elizabeth Flowers, Jeff Wehrli, Dan Koukol, and Chairman John Shaw. Former board members included are Anne Vickery, Bob Davidson, Pam Parr, Jesse Hafenritcher, Suzanne Petrella and Nancy Martin.

Those board members may collectively owe as much as $50,000 to the county, Weis has said.

The audit and investigation that began in 2012 looked into how board members collected compensation for attending meetings and mileage reimbursement. It involved a forensic audit provided by a private auditing firm as well as an investigation by Weis' office. It was learned last fall that a Kendall County Grand Jury also subpoenaed records and minutes from boards and commissions county members sit on. County Sheriff's Deputies also interviewed some board members about how they collect per diems.

About two months have passed since the County Board's Per Diem Ad Hoc committee voted to send demand letters out to County Board members asking them to compensate the county for meeting per diems and mileage incorrectly billed to the county from 2008 to 2012.

Last week a resolution to do away with the board's per diem payment system and switch to just a salary for board members failed in a 5-5 deadlock board vote. The failed resolution also would have required board members to pay the full cost of their health insurance as well as doing away with mileage reimbursement for in-county travel.

The failure of the resolution essentially keeps the compensation package board members receive at the status quo. Board members receive an $85 per diem for attending meetings and a $200 monthly stipend. They get mileage reimbursements for both in-county and out-of-county travel and are also eligible to participate in the county employee's health and dental insurance with most of the cost of the insurance picked up by taxpayers.

The board did approve requiring members to fill out attendance forms for county board committee meetings and special committee assignments. They also added a mileage log for that reimbursement and paperwork for collecting and submitting salary vouchers.

On Tuesday the committee discussed how the per diem system could be improved and what changes might be made to the board rules of order that govern when, where and how compensation can be claimed including mileage reimbursement and per diems.

At the start of the meeting Cesich and other committee member said they were uncomfortable signing the demand letters that will be sent out Friday.

Cesich eventually relented and said that she would sign the letters even though it "gave her pause" to do so.

The full board is expected to further discuss the issue during their committee of the whole meeting today (Thursday) before possibly forwarding an action item to the County Board meeting on May 20.




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