DuPage clerk gets bills paid, halting election question, but questions linger on salary hikes
Talk of removing the election division from the DuPage County clerk's office has ceased now that outstanding bills have been paid.
Earlier this month, DuPage County Board Chairwoman Deborah Conroy suggested removing the election division from the county clerk's responsibility if the clerk's office could not comply with budget standards. At Tuesday's meeting, Conroy reported the clerk's office was in compliance. County board members approved a budget transfer of $17,350 to cover outstanding bills related to the election.
DuPage County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek declined to comment after Tuesday's meeting.
In May, county board members blasted Kaczmarek for 11 unpaid bills totaling $180,520. The bills, which included some election-related expenses, ranged from $16 to more than $87,000.
At the time, county finance officials said the clerk's office did not have enough money in specific line items to cover the bills. Though she had money left in her budget, she had not submitted the required budget transfer requests to cover the bills.
Kaczmarek has argued that the county board cannot restrict her budget by line item and that as long as money is left in an overall category, such as equipment or salaries, the bills should be paid. County officials, however, countered that the board can adopt budgeting practices and ask that department heads and elected officials follow those requirements and pointed to a letter from the Illinois attorney general's office they said backed that premise.
Kaczmarek, a Democrat, faced criticism from some of her strongest supporters over the unpaid bills. With questions lingering over how she'll cover salary increases she approved, Kaczmarek left the door open for another showdown with county board members in the fall.
"They're in compliance right now. ... Will they become out of compliance, I don't know," said Nick Kottmeyer, chief administrative officer for the DuPage County Board.
Finance officials have warned Kaczmarek the increases she approved will put her over budget on salaries in September. She has not yet addressed how she will cover those increases. But she has said she has enough money in her overall budget to cover them. However, she has not yet submitted a line item transfer request to ensure her salary budget doesn't dip into the red.