WATSEKA --- An Iroquois County board member is questioning the conservative values of board members following a 22-2 vote Tuesday to create a $65,000 job.
Jim McCray of Claytonville and Brett Schmid of Gilman cast the only NO votes following an executive session to discuss the hiring of Anita Speckman, a CPA from Clifton, who supporters claim will help provide a better picture of county finances.
The board hired the Certified Public Accountant to help project a better understanding of the budget operations, which some board members claim has become too complicated for part-time members.
McCray said “we’ve had a hiring freeze in place to make sure everyone stayed within their line-items. Elected officials have asked to replace people who’ve left and we make sure any hires are within the budget..”
McCray said the county board, on the other hand, doesn’t even look at the budget first to see where we get the money for this hire. He said “we instead do exactly what we tell elected officials not to do. It’s completely against everything we’ve been preaching the last three years.”
McCray said it shows a complete lack of respect for our elected officials and county employees. He said this should have been looked at first to see where the $65,000 is available in the budget.
McCray said there’s people here on this board always ready to assign blame where the problem might be, but the place that’s never looked at is in the mirror. The fault with everything here on this board, McCray said, is right here in this room.
The county board has laid employees off, imposed a hiring freeze, froze salaries, and pushed employee furloughs all behind the steady cry that “there’s no money.” This hire, for a $65,000 person, sends mixed signals to all the elected officials as to what they should do next, according to McCray.
McCray said voters certainly need to enter that ballot box and realize who voted Yes for a new position that pushes numbers already available from two existing offices. He said it’s a matter of taking time to understand the numbers and not pointing blame.
McCray said it’s real clear who the leading players are on this board claiming they’re conservatives, yet they vote for bigger government and waste more taxpayers money without justifying where the money is going.
Finance committee chairman Jim Meyer of Clifton admits “it appears a strange thing” looking from the outside in. But Meyer says the budget has become so complicated with state requirements, the finance committee felt we needed a person with a solid accounting background.
Meyer said this hire is not meant to make it difficult on any elected office, but instead to make it easier for budget and union negotiations and levy and audit times.
McCray said past budgets and past levys were messed up by people not doing the job. Now—he says, explain to those employees with frozen salaries and slashed budgets why they don’t deserve their due.
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