Candidate Questionnaire: Rebecca McNeil
These responses were submitted by Republican County Treasurer Rebecca McNeil, who faces Libertarian Lex Green. The questionnaire was prepared by GLT in partnership with the League of Women Voters of McLean County. See more candidate responses.
What in your professional experience qualifies you to be County Treasurer?
I hold a B.A. and M.A. in Economics from Western Illinois University and I have served as County Treasurer for the past 15 years. Since 1999, I have dedicated my professional career to public service. I started my employment with the Treasurer's office as a Payroll Accountant in 1999. I was promoted to Assistant County Treasurer in 2001 and became responsible for managing the daily operations of the Treasurer’s office as well as providing leadership to the staff. I was appointed County Treasurer in March of 2003 and elected to the countywide office in 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2014. My experience is enhanced by a significant level of institutional knowledge, my passion to serve the public and professional relationships built through years of collaboration, communication and cooperation. I also have been directly involved in administering the state statutes, governmental accounting standards and county board policies the office must follow. I have led efforts to improve accountability, build transparency, strengthen internal controls and develop the website portal.
Last fall, the county had to close a $1.5 million budget gap — a deficit that led to an early retirement program and other cuts. What would you do as Treasurer to help policymakers make informed budget decisions should revenues remain tight in future years?
The office performs a wide range of critical financial functions for county departments. We are responsible for posting all revenue accounting, payroll expenses and accounts payable transactions for the County. Performing these functions in a timely and accurate manner is critical to budget tracking. The Treasurer reports to the County Board on a monthly basis. The Treasurer presents reports that include statistical information about key sources of revenue the County must closely monitor. The reports also include information about our cash and investments, the County Nursing Home and tax revenue. The Treasurer also works with the County Auditor to present the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report which reports the overall financial position of the County to the County Board, County Administration, financial reporting agencies and the public.
What is a function provided by the Treasurer’s office that is especially well-managed? What is a service provided by the Treasurer’s office where you see room for improvement or innovation?
The office must continue to leverage technology to utilize resources in the most innovative, effective and efficient manner possible. A function that especially well managed is the communication we provide to the public through our internet site. The site has been designed to provide the public with 24 hour access to many of our records and services. The site has also been designed with input from the public to promote communication, transparency and accountability. Technology has allowed us to communicate with the public through email, text message and social media. McLean County is government on demand. Our online public services will continue to be evaluated for improvement. The website is getting ready to go through a "face lift" this fall. We are also looking at technology which will allow us to communicate more electronically with our taxpayers in the future through e-billing. This is an exciting time and change is constant. I believe in the work we have done and I feel the best is yet to come.
The county has an Auditor. But what measures should the Treasurer’s office use to help detect financial mismanagement or fraud?
Having a strong network of internal controls and segregation of duties is essential to preventing financial mismanagement and fraud. No one staff member has access to complete an accounting transaction from beginning to end. The process requires a transaction to be validated and approved by management before being posted. The office utilizes technology to track, entitle and limit user access within the financial system. Controls are put into place during the receipting process to monitor and authenticate the cash that is being accepted. Departments are required to make timely deposits to the office of revenues collected. Bank accounts are closely monitored, reconciled and have features that block unauthorized transactions. External audits are also performed to review our work, practices and controls.
How would you evaluate whether the county is well-served by its investment policy?
The investment policy has been written according to the Illinois Public Funds Investment Act (30 ILCS 235/). The policy emphasizes the importance of safety and liquidity over return on investment. Investments are held in many banks throughout the County. Investments are also held with the Illinois Funds which is the Illinois State Treasurers Local Government Investment Pool. Banks that hold investments over the FDIC level are required to insure the safety of our principle by pledging additional securities with a market value that exceeds the investment amount on hand. Liquidity is necessary to allow the County to meet financial obligations especially when funding from the State of Illinois is unpredictable and untimely. Prior to placing some of the larger investments, competitive rates are obtained from several banks and compared. Rate of return is not the primary force that determines where an investment it is placed but it is certainly utilized as a factor and monitored. State law requires the Treasurer’s Office to report monthly to the County Board a listing of all active investments and deposits held.