Friday, June 17, 2005

Poor Judgments

A decision by the National Association of County Boards is having national repercussions and these repercussions have landed locally. This National Association funded by taxpayers decided to have their convention in Hawaii. Wrong place even when governmental bodies aren’t cash strapped. In Peoria County, a request was made to the County Board Chairman by two board members (neither one chairs a committee) to attend this convention, offering to pay part of the expense. The County Board Chairman has the authority to decide who if anyone will attend any function in which there are expenses or fees. The Board Chairman is my source of information on this blog. I had no input on this decision.

I have never had any of my registration or meals paid by the taxpayer to attend a dinner or a meeting unless it was in Peoria of Tazewell County, less than $100.00 total in 4 ½ years. As Vice-Chairman of the County Board, I receive no travel expenses, no car allowance, no pension, insurance or medical benefits. I do have a place to park now at the courthouse, but for more than a year, I paid my own parking fees. I do receive an annual salary of $5400.00. After all the expenses I personally pay, I figure I net about $2000.00 a year or about $15.00 an hour including all study, preparation, typing and filing I do at home. You have to believe you are making a difference or you are nuts. Oh, I forget, another benefit is being assassinated in print by the JS.

As a whole, the Peoria County Board is a fiscally conservative board.

I believe the JSEB and the JS should have called attention to the Peoria Park Board meeting held in Reno, Nevada last year where I was told by a board member that all board members and significant other, plus a large administration and staff contingent had a mainly taxpayer expense trip to this exotic place. Some enterprising JS writer should file an FOIA to see what the total cost of this outing was but I’ll bet the dollar amount Peoria County reimburses the two County Board members going to Hawaii will pale in comparison to the Park District. The park has no reason to be concerned about expenses. After all they have a budget this year of $44.8 MILLION. (By comparison, Dubuque, Iowa who is listed as the #1 historical destination in the Midwest: this ranking was made by the travel section of the USA Today on June 3, 2005, has a budget of $4 million dollars).

I’m glad to see poor decisions made by we elected officials brought to public attention, but lets not overlook other governmental bodies; especially local ones, that have done much worse.

At a later date on this blog site I will post the exact cost of this convention to Peoria County taxpayers. I assure you; I had no hand in this decision. However; I will be more vigilant in the future. I believe I have had a major role in the fiscal conservatism of the county board over the last 4 ½ years.

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