Consultant to help DuPage review entities

Outside help is being brought in to help DuPage County officials analyze fire protection districts, sanitary districts, mosquito abatement districts and other local governmental entities to find opportunities for consolidation.

County board members on Tuesday agreed to hire a public accounting and consulting firm to assist board Chairman Dan Cronin and other officials doing a comprehensive review of the two dozen independent boards and commissions that Cronin appoints.

Crowe Horwath LLP will be paid $85,000 through April to assist with the assessment, which includes reviewing of the key functions, organizational structures and internal financial controls of the agencies.

The comprehensive review was prompted by financial scandals involving the DuPage Housing Authority and the DuPage Water Commission.

Cronin replaced the housing authority board after a series of federal audits showed that the agency misspent or failed to account for more than $10 million. The water commission was revamped after it accidentally spending $69 million in reserves through poor accounting practices and lackadaisical financial oversight.

As part of the review of the other entities, officials will go through the budgets, ethics policies, personnel policies, bylaws and other materials. Cronin received that information last month.

“I just want to make sure that what's on paper reflects what's happening in the agency,” Cronin said. “We need to investigate. We need to do a deeper analysis — and that's where (Crowe Horwath) come in.”

Because the county's finance department is busy with the proposed 2012 budget, Cronin said there aren't enough staff members available to do the analysis.

Once the assessment is done, officials will consider ways to improve efficiency, streamline operations, share services and increase transparency to the public. Cronin said there also might be ways to consolidate agencies.

“Maybe there's opportunities to eliminate some of these costs,” Cronin said.

Cronin said he wants the work done by January in case the county needs to seek a state law change in Springfield.

“This report is not going to collect dust,” he said. “We're going to get something done.”

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