Should the Kane County auditor just double-check expenditures and expense accounts for county employees?
Or should the auditor take a fresh look at spending -- department by department -- and offer suggestions on how to save money?
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The candidates -- Karl Regnier, Terry Hunt and Laura Wallett -- seeking the Republican nomination for the four-year post in the March primary fall on different spots on this spectrum.
Wallett, a South Elgin resident who touts herself at the only practicing accountant in the race, believes the auditor should take an active role in better tracking inventory and suggesting areas of cost savings to department heads.
"That's what the auditor's job should be," she said, noting she wants to create transparency porthole on the Internet that would pull all the county's financial data into one place. "What I'm talking about is making suggestions to people."
Regnier, a North Aurora resident who describes himself as a "behind the scenes role player," wants cost cutting and savings left up to the county's finance department. He says the job is 90 percent checking source documents and 10 percent auditing expense accounts, and he doesn't want to "uproot" anything.
"It's a pretty fine line there. For you to come in and tell them how to run their department, that's not going to go over well," Regnier said. "The treasurer checks everything when it comes in and the auditor checks it when it goes out."
Hunt, a Big Rock village trustee who has earned the endorsement from outgoing auditor Bill Keck, wants to enhance the county's pre-emptive forensic accounting and identify problems before they happen.
Hunt says the auditor doesn't have a say in the county's budget, but says collaboration with others and innovation will go a long way toward enhancing the auditor's three-person staff.
"You not only have to be proactive, you have to build consensus while you're at it," he said.
March 20 is the primary election, but it could be the de facto election for who will hold the four-year seat. No Democrat has filed so far to run for auditor in the November general election.