County board candidates targeting wasteful spending

Both candidates for the Lake County Board's 10th District seat believe county officials need to do more to control spending - but their recommendations differ.

Republican incumbent Charles "Chuck" Bartels of Mundelein is being challenged by Democrat Jessica Vealitzek of Hawthorn Woods.

They discussed county spending and other issues in Daily Herald candidate questionnaires.

The county has a $512.2 million budget for the current fiscal year. That's up from $503.4 million in 2017 and from $495.2 million in 2016, documents indicate.

Vealitzek, an activist and author, called for the county board to reduce the taxpayer-funded expense accounts for the 21 board members, which at $7,000 each total $147,000 annually. The county board chairman received an additional $3,000 annually.

The $7,000 account limit should be slashed in half at least, Vealitzek said. Additionally, credit cards issued to county board members that access those accounts should be eliminated, she said, as should credit cards issued to many county employees.

Vealitzek also targeted the communications department's budget, saying the occasional "Dirty Jobs" videos about some county employees' responsibilities are "extraneous."

"Are they necessary to serve the public? I'd say no," she said.

Bartels, who has served on the county board and the Lake County Forest Preserve District board since 2014, suggested consolidating the county clerk's office and the county recorder of deeds' office as a money-saving move. That proposal has been floated through the years, but it never has built up steam.

Bartels, a former teacher and former CEO, also said investing in sustainable energy efforts such as solar electricity and hybrid or electric vehicles would reduce fuel and maintenance costs.

Additionally, Bartels suggested including more towns in equipment purchasing programs to increase volume discounts. Selling the services of expert county employees such as the sheriff's office and the transportation division to towns, schools and other government agencies could create a return on that investment, too, he said.

"The biggest expenses are staff and capital investments," Bartels said.

Like Vealitzek, Bartels supports eliminating credit cards and cutting expense accounts for county commissioners.

The 10th District includes parts of Mundelein, Hawthorn Woods, Round Lake Park, Wauconda, and Long Grove.

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