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Pay back mileage, per diems? : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Pay back mileage, per diems?
County board members react to repayment request

by Matt Schury


Kendall County Board members are now contacting State's Attorney Eric Weis after recently learning how much money the board's Per Diem Ad Hoc Committee indicated they owe in improperly collected per diem and mileage payments.

Last week letters were sent to 11 current and former county board members indicating they collectively owe the county $45,5997.

Board members, some of whom declined to comment on the record for this article, received request letters May 21, which were released to the Ledger-Sentinel May 27, asking board members to repay the money.

Some board members said they were angry or shocked to find out how much they owed. Of the 11 current and former board members who got request letters, Chairman John Shaw had previously spoken about getting a request letter.

Bob Davidson, Nancy Martin and Dan Koukol agreed to comment. Former Board members Anne Vickery, Suzanne Petrella and current board member John Purcell were reached but had no comment. Board members Pam Parr, Jeff Wehrli, Elizabeth Flowers and Jessie Hafenritcher could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Davidson, who was asked in his letter to pay back $2,635, said he doesn't think the audit of the per diems has been handled correctly. He said that he didn't think board members should have been on the per diem ad hoc committee.

"This is saying that we are all guilty of something," Davidson. "To this day I have no written record of what we have done or haven't done. Until I get an itemized account of how they're figuring it, I'm not saying anything. And they keep slamming my name around a little bit, they better start coming up with some facts."

Davidson said that he has talked with Weis and his attorney, Dan Kramer, is going to meet with Weis.

The board members were not given exact details in the letter about why they owe a certain amount to the county. They said they would like to first see what meetings they owe for before they even consider paying it back.

"My response is, what did I do wrong?" Davidson said. "In America you're innocent until proven guilty and I've been waiting for my day in court. If I'm a bad boy, file charges."

Davidson added that during the investigation he had talked to sheriff's deputies and they showed him nine offenses. He said he was surprised the letter said he owed $2,600.

"I'm going whoa, wait a minute-- now I really want to see what your facts are," Davidson said.

Martin, whose letter says she owes the county $1,785, added that she also has an issue with the amount in the request letter, adding that she never claimed mileage so she can't imagine where the number came from. She admits that she might have made a mistake on a couple of meetings she claimed and has scheduled a meeting with Weis to discuss this.

"I'm not afraid that anything I've done could be misconstrued," Martin said. "I've got all my records. I've got all my vouchers, and they're stapled to calendars and sometimes there were three calendars in a month."

In her estimation, the total amount board members probably actually owe is between $10,000 and $15,000.

She said that when she was on the board in 2006 she noted that they changed the rules so that board members could claim mileage reimbursements for almost anything that had to do with county business.

"The mileage, as far as I'm concerned, is out the door," she said.

She adds that she can't see how the county could file a lawsuit against the 11 members.

"The only way this will end up in court is if county board members end up suing," Martin said. "I'm not upset about it. I look at it this way-- I have a clear conscience."

Koukol, whose letter indicated owes $4,397, also said the number in the request letter is not correct.

"I didn't have any anticipation at all, I just know that the number is off, I have to go through it and correct a few things for the committee, I guess," Koukol said, adding that he will soon set up a meeting with Weis.

"I really don't know anything yet," Koukol said.

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