DuPage County Circuit Clerk candidate Ralph Scalise says he could save taxpayers as much as $450,000 through management cuts and attrition in what he describes as a "top-heavy" office.
The Carol Stream Democrat faces off Tuesday against incumbent Republican Chris Kachiroubas of Elmhurst, who contends he is already saving the public $400,000 a year and denies being overrun with managers.
"Top-heavy? No. Experience? Yes," Kachiroubas said, noting his management team has about 170 years of combined experience. "They can give me local history, old history and moving-forward ideas, and help me make policy decisions."
In a meeting with the Daily Herald editorial board, Scalise likened the clerk's office under Kachiroubas to the "wild, wild west." He criticized his opponent for outsourcing some functions that reduced support staff while keeping eight to 10 managers and supervisors.
Kachiroubas, meanwhile, maintained that in his first two terms he's reduced his overall head count while enacting policies that are less expensive and more efficient. He also made it a priority to cross-train employees so they're prepared for any job handed to them, he said.
"Since 2004, we've gone from a 196 full-time head count down to 179, and our budget has had a 1 percent increase from 2005 to the 2013 one we presented to the county board," Kachiroubas said. "When you cross-train people, you get eight hours out of them. Many of our people can do two or three different types of job tasks. We undertook cross-training in January, and we've done it aggressively."
Scalise said he would have a deputy clerk rather than two directors of operations and whittle down remaining management through attrition and restructuring.
He vowed to avoid layoffs by offsetting naturally occurring staff reductions with internship programs for law students, and by bringing back retired clerk's employees part-time.
Scalise, a former employee of the circuit clerk's office, estimated the changes would result in a one-time saving of $450,000, possibly more.
"You have supervisors in charge of two people," he told Kachiroubas at the editorial meeting. "Come on, now. You don't need half of what you have. There's no need for that amount of management."
Scalise also chided Kachiroubas for outsourcing the circuit clerk's document-imaging functions.
Scalise said he would do away with outsourcing, while Kachiroubas defended the practice, which he said saves the county about $400,000 a year.
The outsourced company, which makes electronic images of all documents that enter Kachiroubas' office, has 11 people on-site in Wheaton and performs the rest of its functions in downstate Rantoul, the incumbent said. The effort has resulted in an electronic archive dating back to 1978.
Kachiroubas hopes to eventually image all documents since 1839.
"They have cheaper labor, they have the equipment, and they have the ability to run it seven days a week if they so desire," he said. "I don't have the manpower to sit down and run those machines and keep checking on them. I would rather have them do that. We saved a tremendous amount of money by doing it and are getting the job done better and more efficiently."
Scalise disagreed: "He may want to save money on his payroll and save money on his budget, but he's putting people out of work by my estimation, and I don't think that should be the case."