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No more gas for donuts? : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
No more gas for donuts?
County board backs unspecified change to mileage payment policy

by Matt Schury


The Kendall County Board set themselves up Tuesday to make changes to the way board members are reimbursed for traveling while on county business.

The board approved a resolution Tuesday in a split 7-2 vote to modify the way members collect mileage reimbursements for county travel but didn't stipulate what that modification to their rules of order would entail.

Voting in favor of the resolution were Chairman John Shaw, Judy Gilmour, Dan Koukol, Jeff Wehrli, Matt Prochaska, Amy Cesich and John Purcell. Casting no votes were Scott Gryder and Lynn Cullick.

Earlier in the meeting a resolution to modify mileage reimbursement rules by saying members could only collect mileage for a list of 45 meetings, failed in a 5-4 split vote Tuesday.

Voting in favor of that resolution were Gryder, Cullick, Shaw and Cesich. Voting against it were Gilmour, Koukol, Prochaska, Wehrli and Purcell. Elizabeth Flowers was absent from the meeting.

Both the failed resolution and the one and that passed stipulated that any changes would only go into effect in 2016 for the half of the board up for election this fall. A second vote would then have to be taken in 2016 for the five other board members up for election in that year.

There was discussion at the board meeting this week that a committee of the board might be charged with coming up with a list of meetings that board members can agree on for which they should be reimbursed for mileage traveled.

"I would strongly recommend that we do this, that we tighten up this particular item in our board rules of order," Cesich said. "After reviewing some of the audit findings, after discussion with Mr. (Eric) Weis, it is very apparent that this is an issue. It is too gray of an interpretation and while it doesn't affect us right now for this current board, it affected the past board and because it's left open to interpretation, it could affect us and it would affect future boards as well."

Currently board members can collect mileage reimbursement for traveling to and from county meetings and any county business inside or outside the county.

Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis said this opens the mileage system up to abuse.

For instance, Weis recently said that the audit findings showed that a past board member was once reimbursed mileage for traveling to get donuts before a meeting.

Board members in favor of not restricting the meetings they can collect mileage for say they wanted flexibility to add meetings in the future.

Purcell told the board he didn't have any problem putting the list in the board rules of order. But he noted that if they want to modify the rules or expand the list it would require seven votes to pass, or a super majority of the board. He added that stipulating which meetings they can take mileage for in a resolution can be changed by just a simple majority vote. He added that he wanted more time.

"I have not heard anyone opposed to clarifying or tightening up the rules so that it is more black and white ... I've not heard anyone say they are opposed to that," Purcell said. "I have no problems putting this list in and tweaking it a little bit and bringing it back for the next meeting."

Gryder explained that he was in favor of restricting the mileage to that specific list of meetings and when it failed he didn't want to vote to change the rules of order because he didn't think that changed anything.

"With option (resolution) one it really corrects one of the big issues, one of the big problems that we've seen and flexibility-when you're talking about flexibility it sounds nice and it sounds like we'll have the flexibility if a new committee comes into play," Gryder said. "I don't think it's correcting an ything if we leave it that wide open, it ends up more of the same of what got us into this mess to begin with."

Weis said the resolution the board passed Tuesday ties the county's mileage reimbursement to their rules of order. He said that approving the change in the rules of order allows the board to discuss mileage changes beyond June 1. Since board members cannot vote on their own compensation, they have 180 days before the next election to set any compensation. The rules of order change had to be done within that 180-day window, before June 1.

Adding a resolution that says which specific meetings they can get a mileage reimbursement for is not restricted by that time frame, he said, so that board can discuss that and bring it back for a vote any time they like.

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