Geneva Township highway commissioner candidate Mike Abts is questioning the spending done by his opponent, incumbent Mark Wissing.
In particular, Abts sees no reason why the district should be spending $19,000 to rent a warehouse. He also wonders why Wissing bought a laptop computer and outfitted it with software programs typically used for graphic design. According to invoices Abts obtained through Freedom of Information requests, the district paid:
• $137.50 to a graphic artist for photography and uploading images of a snow-sculpting event (Wissing is a snow sculptor).
• $539.25 to the artist to design and send email and 20 paper invitations, with map, to a Kane County township highway commissioners seminar at the township.
• $110 to the artist to translate PDF forms and deliver them electronically to the township supervisor.
• $55 to the artist to upload Memorial Day and Swedish Day pictures to the district's website.
• $1,470.85 to the artist to design and implement a separate website for the district.
• $185.55 for 24 hats with the township logo.
• $1,149.15 on 48 shirts for the groundbreaking for the reconstruction of the Wenmoth Road bridge.
• $5,101.44 for the MacBook Pro laptop, a warranty, Microsoft Office Mac Home Office software, Adobe Systems Inc. CS4 Design Standard software, and an upgrade to CS4 Design Premium.
• $700 for 50 lunches bought and delivered from the Little Owl restaurant for a highway commissioners' seminar.
"I just want to keep (running the township) basic, the way it should be," said Abts, a former Geneva Park District commissioner. "We should not be spending money on gifts."
Wissing said when he took office in 2009, the district had one desktop computer and it was broken. He ordered the new laptop so he could use it in the district's trucks, he said, and wanted one that could withstand bumpy rides. Part of the expense is due to it having an upgraded, solid-state hard drive. "I found it invaluable, honestly (in running the district)," Wissing said, noting he received no help from the previous supervisor, nor from a deputy road commissioner.
He had design software installed because, as "a one-man operation," and with his artistic background, he intended to update the highway district's logo and publish newsletters. "I did not have as much time as I thought I would have," Wissing said.
The hats were for him, Wissing said, adding he gave some to the Kane County sheriff and the township supervisor and trustees. Wissing said he has worn out about 10 hats during his term. "I try to look respectable" when meeting constituents, he said. The souvenir shirts were given to people who were involved with the Wenmoth bridge, including those who helped the district obtain grant money to pay for most of it, Wissing said.
He said Abts' criticism about the storage building on Old Kirk Road "shows how naive he is about the responsibilities of highway commissioner. You can't run it (the district) out of a teacup office," Wissing said. Besides trucks, the building houses barricades and road signs, he said.
Abts maintains the job should take five to 10 hours a week, tops, since the township is small and most of the work is contracted out. The township hires private contractors for maintenance, repairs, paving and some snowplowing. It also hires Blackberry and Batavia townships' road districts to plow some roads.
Wissing said he spends an average of four hours a day on district business.
Abts was a township vendor, doing jobs such as shoveling the sidewalk at the Senior Center. Wissing said he stopped using Abts because Abts did not return phone calls.