County-wide office-holders back action against Prenzler
Posted by Bluangel on July 6, 2022, 1:50 pm, in reply to "Madison County Special Meeting"
All five elected Republican county-wide officeholders have come out in support of severe restrictions on the powers of Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler. |
On Friday 12 County Board members called for a special meeting set for 5 p.m. Wednesday to consider an ordinance that would strip many of the board chairman’s powers, including appointments.
In a joint statement released Tuesday, Circuit Clerk Tom McRae, County Auditor David Michael, State’s Attorney Tom Haine, Treasurer Chris Slusser, and Regional Superintendent of Schools Rob Werden came out “in strong support” of the plan.
“We all believe these proposed changes are reasonable and responsible,” the statement said. “We fully support them. As independent elected officials, we need the County administration to work smoothly and efficiently so we can do our jobs well.”
The statement cited “inept management and bad judgement” that is wasting taxpayer resources and harming the office-holders’ ability to serve the county’s citizens.
“This action is long overdue, and we commend the Board's leadership in pursuing these ordinance updates even in the face of personal attacks,” the statement said, in part referring to statements made by Prenzler in a series of letters endorsing challengers in recent county-wide and County Board races.”
Prenzler had previously said he had supported those candidates in large part because of his efforts to put a referendum on Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, or PTELL, on the ballot.
PTELL caps the total dollar amount certain property taxes may increase from year to year based on the Consumer Price Index or 5 percent, whichever is lower. However, larger increases can be made with voter approval.
Prenzler has pushed for its adoption in Madison County and there have been several failed attempts to place it on the ballot.
While touted as a tax-saving measure, a number of County Board members, including many of those opposed by Prenzler, had said they did not have enough information, and were concerned that if approved it would, at least initially, create much higher property taxes for many residents.
However, the joint statement said additional oversight and involvement in the county administration “has been rumored for a while.”
Among the reasons specifically cited were the administration’s handling of the filing and eventual settling of a sex harassment and wrongful termination lawsuit by former Madison County Community Development Director Kristen Poshard, which was settled last year for $850,000, and cost the county a total of about $1.3 million.
It also cited other “misguided appointments and personnel decisions,” and the maintaining of an “ongoing professional relationship” with former County Administrator Doug Hulme and former IT Director Rob Dorman, who were both fired by the board in April 2020.
The meeting was called by Board Members John “Eric” Foster, R-Granite City; Chris Hankins, D-Pontoon Beach; Chris Guy, R-Maryville; Denise Wienhardt, R-Granite City; Nick Petrillo, D-Granite City; Gussie Glasper, D-Madison; Mike Walters, R-Godfrey; Bobby Ross, R-St. Jacob; Stacey Pace, R-Troy; Jamie Goggin, R-Edwardsville; Mick Madison, R-Bethalto and Terry Eaker, R-Bethalto.
Foster, Glasper and Goggin were, according to unofficial ballot results, defeated in the June 28 primary. Walters was defeated in his attempt to gain the Republican nomination for County Clerk.
The proposed ordinance would transfer much of the chairman’s powers, including all of his powers to appoint department heads, the county administrator, and approximately 70 boards and committees throughout the county, to the chairperson pro tem.
Walters is the current chair pro tem, but the ordinance calls for a new election among board members for a new chair pro tem and vice president pro tem at the following board meeting.
That person would also be responsible to “implement the decisions and policies of the board” and take over control of many of the executive functions in running the county.
Prenzler had previously characterized the board members’ actions as an attempt to change the county’s form of government, emphasizing his “pro-taxpayer” stance.
“More than 70,000 Madison County citizens chose me over my pro-tax opponent precisely because I’m pro-taxpayer,” he said. “And I’m not going to change my position after the election just because I have opposition. I will not back down to those who want to change our county's form of government without a referendum - back to the good ole days – when one board member was elected by other board members – to divvy up the spoils. To back down would disenfranchise the 70,000 voters who elected me.
Prenzler said late Tuesday morning he would have additional comments regarding the issue, but had not responded by about 5 p.m.
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