Michele Anderson is the problem

By:  Diane Benjamin

On October 9th I received a “press release” from Michele Anderson which I read and filed.  I don’t know who else she sent it to, evidently to WGLT who took the bait and did a story.  For an elected official to publicly name call was unprofessional at best.  See it here:  Press Release

I attended the emergency Finance Committee meeting last night to find out what is really going on.  I listened for over two hours to people making the issue harder than it has to be.

Facts:

  • 20 months ago cutting checks was moved out of the Auditors office to the Treasurer.  The same staff is doing the work now that did it in the Auditor’s office.  The County should publicly state why that was done.  I doubt the minutes reflect the real reason.
  • The County has been charged late fees for not paying bills on time.  Bills go first to the Auditor’s office for coding and then to the Treasurer.  The Treasurer can’t pay the bills on time if they are being held up by the Auditor.
  • In September department heads started noticing changes in the monthly statement they received.  Changing accounting practices in the middle of a year makes watching the budget much more difficult.

The concept is not difficult to understand.  The same employees are doing the work, so why are department heads concerned and bills being paid late.  Two words:  Michelle Anderson.

She decided all on her own that bills paid need to be backdated to the month they were incurred.  What that does is make tracking payments more difficult and it retroactively changes year-to-date-totals without documentation.  When the Treasurer failed to comply with her scheme, Michele wasted time making journal entries to move the payments herself.  Bills must have piled up in her office while she was busy wreaking havoc on the monthly reports.

There seemed to be little appetite on the finance committee for hiring a CPA to review procedures.  I sent Anderson’s press release to the Dupage County Auditor.  Here is his response:

Depage

Let me put that in laymen’s terms:

The County has always paid bills as they come into the office.  During the year those bills may or may not be paid in the month they were incurred, it’s a timing issue.  If an October bill is received in the auditor’s office on October 31st, it isn’t going to be paid in the Treasurer’s office until November.  There is no reason to print reports for the department heads as of the October 31st, provide them with a list of payments, and then restate the reports later by including bills that weren’t paid that month.

Michele Anderson decided all by herself that should be done.  Department heads were suddenly seeing year to date totals changed without supporting documents.  Bills weren’t being paid as she created her own accounting policies and wasted valuable time doing it.

The only time compensating for bills not received in the month incurred really matters is at year end.  Both the Treasurer and the Auditor know that.  Remember how the Coliseum books always showed much higher losses after the audit?  That was because they failed to book every applicable expense.  The County always gets that right, but there is no need to waste time every month pretending it’s a year end.

I doubt anyone in the room believed a word Michele Anderson had to say last night.  She claimed nothing had changed.  Obviously it had.  She created the problems herself and she alone makes the County look bad.

The only fix is a new County Auditor.  The job pays more than 6 figures, surely a CPA can be found to replace her.

 

9 thoughts on “Michele Anderson is the problem

  1. 1.) It is important to have a County Auditor and County Treasurer who can work together and balance the books. It appears both need to bury the hatchet and get to working for the people. Ultimately, the people, through voting, will decide who they want in those positions and reviewing how they can work together.

    If they want to release all of the emails, that would show the conversations between the Auditor, Treasurer, and County Administrator. The same thing about the Auditor reaching out to County Board members. If those emails/calls/texts exist, that looks really bad for the other people. If they don’t exist, it looks bad for the Auditor.

    2.) It appears Jim Soeldner wants the County Auditor out of office and has for some time. I don’t buy for a second, based on his prior actions and statements, that Soeldner’s only concerns are the county’s accounting practices. Perhaps the easiest way he can accomplish what appears to be his goal is to recruit a candidate who can win the position. I doubt he recruited Rob Fazzini to run for the Democrats, but he isn’t going to win the position.

    Perhaps cutting the Auditor’s staff down is responsible for slowing the bills being processed for payment. I’m not saying put 10 people in the office, but let’s call a spade, a spade – if you are short-staffed and people are out, that is going to have an impact on timeliness of work product. Perhaps, if a staff member is out on vacation for two weeks, the Treasurer’s office could “lease back” an employee who knows what she/he is doing to help.

    3.) Let the Treasurer pay the bills and collect the receipts followed by the Auditor creating the reports and reviewing the records.

    Like

    1. I FOIA’d the emails, the County delayed the response. Soeldner is the chair of the Finance Committee. he knows who the problem is. Everything worked fine after the change 20 months ago. The problems started in September. The Auditor isn’t short staffed.

      Like

  2. This topic came up unexpectedly in conversation today, and somebody who would know said Several people within county government had made comments along the same lines as this article. I hope we can get somebody better next election – Seems hard to get somebody worse!

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s