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McLean County voters to decide fate of auditor's office in November

The McLean county board meets at the Government Center in Bloomington on June 14
Colin Hardman
The McLean County Board meets Thursday, June 13, 2024 at the Government Center in Bloomington.

The McLean County Board on Thursday approved asking voters to decide if the position of county auditor should be eliminated, and the office’s duties shuffled to existing personnel.

The resolution creates a referendum that will put the question to voters in November. The board amended the original wording of the question that mentioned other ways to perform the auditor’s role and cost-saving benefits.

Board members said this wording could be overly complicated and leading, so the version on the ballot will only ask if the position should be eliminated.

Vice-Chair Elizabeth Johnston sits on the McLean county board commenting on the auditor resolution on June 14
Colin Hardman
Board vice-chair Elizabeth Johnston speaking at Thursday's meeting.

The current auditor, Michelle Anderson, has been subject to criticism regarding making payments on time and general dissatisfaction with her job performance. Board vice-chair Elizabeth Johnston confirmed these problems have made raising the issue a more favorable proposition.

“There have been multiple issues where bills were not getting paid or grants were not being followed through appropriately,” Johnston said after the meeting. “And so for me, it’s come around enough times that when it was brought up to consider and put it to the voters for a choice, I was very open to that.”

County voters rejected a similar referendum 10 years ago. The auditor's office oversees county finances and bookkeeping.

Anderson, who has been the county auditor since 2009 and has been elected three times, is running unopposed in the November election.

Previously, county officials have pointed out that McLean is one of only 16 Illinois counties that still elects their auditors.

County administrator Cassy Taylor said if the resolution is approved, the county will explore how best to continue internal audits.

"The efforts of county administration and the county board in the next few months would be to just design how they would like that to look so it could it could be many different ways. And we certainly will look to get feedback from all of the department heads, as well as other counties who are close in our size," Taylor said. "I think there's lots of opportunities here."

County withdraws from intergovernmental transit agreement

In another matter, the board announced its intention to vacate an agreement with five other counties intended to provide public transportation to rural areas. McLean County had been the primary recipient of a multi-county grant for the program, whose funds will now be distributed to each member individually.

Show Bus Director Laura Dick addresses the county board on June 13
Colin Hardman
Show Bus Director Laura Dick addressed the board Thursday.

Show Bus Director Laura Dick attended Thursday’s meeting to ask that the issue be given more time for consideration in order to avoid damaging the rural public transportation system currently in place.

“To announce McLean County stepping away in such a precipitous manner, without allowing time to explore and generate options for future organizational structures, will jeopardize rural public transportation today,” she said.

Dick said the timing is poor, in part, because grants the counties are in the final stages of executing grants for the 2025 fiscal year that includes matters like purchasing vehicles.

Johnston said a recent audit of the system raised concerns about a lack of internal controls, and fixed routes that struggled to meet some residents’ needs. She said some of the other counties involved had shown limited interaction with the agreement, and that allowing each of them to focus on their own services may yield better results.

Colin Hardman is a correspondent at WGLT. He joined the station in 2022.