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Official: audit shows $46,000 owed to county : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Official: audit shows $46,000 owed to county
Letters seeking repayment from 11 current, former board members in mail soon

by Matt Schury


Kendall County Board member Amy Cesich said Tuesday that former and current board members involved in an almost two year audit and investigation into how they collected per diem and mileage payments for sitting on the board collectively owe the county about $46,000.

Cesich, who chairs the County Board's Per Diem Ad Hoc Committee, said that estimate was based on the letters that she has reviewed with State's Attorney Eric Weis that will be sent to 11 board members who are believed to have collected reimbursements and payments in error.

How much each member owes individually will be known soon as Cesich said the letters she signed, and approved to be sent out by the Per Diem Ad Hoc Committee, will be made public May 27.

Those letters were expected to be sent out to the 11 members last week but Cesich said Tuesday they were to be put in the mail either that evening or Wednesday morning.

She explained during Tuesday's County Board meeting that the she had had a lengthy discussion with Weis last Friday before deciding on how to proceed.

"There is a way to do this that is respectful, reasonable and with the end goal in mind to collect the money that is owed. That is the end goal, always," Cesich said.

Two letters could possibly go out to the 11 members, the first one is what Weis is calling a "request letter" which members will receive and have seven days to respond to set up an appointment with him to talk about the findings as well as amounts requested in the letters. If the members don't respond then a second, demand letter will be sent out.

Weis mentioned that while he will hear the board members responses and make a recommendation, it will ultimately be up to the Per Diem Ad Hoc Committee to make the final decision on what board members should repay the county.

"This is a little bit unique and procedural, a little bit different than anything else we do," Weis said. "The request letter is-here what we believe you owe, please contact us. The demand letter is- this what we believe you owe, it's like any other civil collection, this is what you owe you have 30 days to pay it."

Weis said that it is more formal and more procedurally like a collections letter.

Cesich explained that she felt comfortable sending the request letters and thought they were fair.

"When we are looking at this audit and where we are at with it, the 11 members have not had a chance to go in and see their amounts or present their-I guess-their proof or their arguments for what the amount in question is," Cesich said.

Current board members included in the audit and investigation who will receive letters include John Purcell, Elizabeth Flowers, Jeff Wehrli, Dan Koukol, and Chairman John Shaw. The former board members getting letters are Anne Vickery, Bob Davidson, Pam Parr, Jesse Hafenritcher, Suzanne Petrella and Nancy Martin.

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 which, 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 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.

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