HARRISBURG — Saline County Board’s meeting Thursday evening drew a crowd, many of whom were county employees. The agenda for the meeting included a proposal for a special audit of the county clerk’s office, a payroll ordinance and two resolutions dealing with Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.
The first agenda item after Chairman Jay Williams called the meeting to order was passing the minutes from the Sept. 28 board meeting. After a motion made to accept the minutes passed, embattled County Clerk Kim Buchanan told the board they did not have the clerk’s minutes, so the board would be in violation of Illinois statute.
Commissioner Stephen Karns suggested the board move the executive session to the end of the meeting. Mike McKinnies made a motion to move executive session to the last item. The motion was seconded by Roger Craig, and it passed.
Treasurer Jeff Murrie gave his report, including the expected collection from real estate taxes. Tax bills were mailed Sept. 28, with payments due Oct. 31 and Dec. 5. Members of the audience asked why the bills were late this year, seeming to suggest Buchanan has slowed the process. Murrie explained that some assessors turned in paperwork late, then the state budget was late.
“It wasn’t any office in the courthouse. It just was a snowball effect. We cannot point fingers at anybody,” Murrie said.
Murrie then talked about revenue and expenditures for the month, showing that the county is spending more than it is taking in each month. He said it will likely lead to cuts in county offices, if the spending continues.
“If you spend more than you are budgeted, that’s on you. We don’t have the money to bail you out this year,” Commissioner Joe Jackson said.
The board also discussed numerous grievances against Buchanan and her office. One was filed by Murrie because the checks Buchanan sends him for fees collected in the county clerk’s office do not match the spreadsheet she agreed to use. Another was filed by Judy Simpson, field representative for Laborer’s International Union of North America, which represents county employees, over the way paychecks are dated.
For the past two months, county paychecks have been dated using the pay date. If that date is a weekend or holiday, employees do not have access to those funds until after payday.
“This is important. This is the second time we’ve had to wait two days. These are workers for Saline County, citizens who happen to work for the county,” Simpson said.
She asked the board to pass an ordinance to clarify their policy and a memorandum of understanding to clarify the dates.
County employees in the audience talked about the hardship it created for their families, at times talking over Buchanan as she tried to answer board members. Several times, Williams had to call the meeting back to order.
At one point in the meeting, Buchanan defended herself against previous accusations made by the board, county officials and the staff of their offices and passed out information to support her defense.
The board tabled the matter of payroll dates until later in the meeting when they passed Payroll Ordinance 17-138, authorizing the county clerk to date checks a day or two early when payday falls on a day when banks were not open all day.
“Miss Simpson, does this satisfy your concerns?” Commissioner Karns asked.
“It does, but we’d still like it in the form of an MOU, too,” Simpson replied.
The board also passed Resolution 17-10, which raised the minimum number of required hours for part-time employees to qualify for IMRF to 1,000, and R17-11, which allows participated by elected offices in the county to participate in IMRF.
The board had not reached a decision on an auditor in time for deadline.
The board’s next meeting will be Nov. 28.