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McLean County to consider eliminating elected auditor, adding advisory panel for mental health funding


Ten years after McLean County voters rejected a proposal to eliminate the auditor’s office, voters may get another chance.

The County Board’s executive committee is scheduled to vote on Monday on a proposal to eliminate the elected office that oversees the county’s financial accounting. The panel also will consider creating a new advisory council to help determine funding priorities for the county’s mental health programs.

Referendum

The language of the proposed referendum for the November 2024 ballot indicates the county would save money based on “the elimination of redundant functions,” referring to external audits the county must contract for, beyond the scope of the elected auditor.

“There are some functions that are required by state law to be completed by an outside firm and then there are other responsibilities that only a CPA [certified public accountant] can do,” said county administrator Cassy Taylor, noting that current county auditor Michelle Anderson lacks those credentials; there are no qualifications required for elected office.

County board chair Catherine Metsker voted against the proposal in 2014, but indicated she does not have an opinion on the question this time.

“We have a lot of redundancy and it just doesn’t make a lot of sense in the eyes of some people, not necessarily me,” Metkser said. “Some individuals have just said why are we doing this?”

Anderson, who has served as county auditor since 2009, did not respond to a request for comment. Anderson at times has clashed with other county officials over the county’s bookkeeping practices.

Metsker said she doesn’t thinks the proposed referendum is anything personal against the current auditor.

“We work as professional colleagues, so I don’t see it that way,” Metsker said.

If the county puts the referendum on the November ballot, it would need a simple majority to pass. In 2014, the ballot question failed by a 52-48 margin.

Advisory council

In March, Metsker suspended the quarterly meetings of the county’s Behavioral Health Coordinating Council [BHCC] to help the ad-hoc committee “refocus, reset and restart.”

Metsker is proposing creation of a new Mental Health and Public Safety Fund Advisory Council that would include representatives from the Bloomington City Council, Normal Town Council, McLean County Board, BHCC and the county’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council [CJCC].

The seven-member body [with two members each from the BHCC and CJCC] would meet at least once per year to make specific recommendations on how to spend the county’s share of sales tax dollars that Bloomington and Normal collect for mental health services.

The BHCC, which is made up of representatives from various human service providers throughout the county, would be written into the county’s bylaws and would continue its current role of implementing the county’s Mental Health Action Plan, but would not play a role in any funding decisions.

“This really puts that structure around the BHCC that didn’t exist before,” said Metsker, adding the county board would continue to have final say in allocating mental health funds.

Both measures would require approval of the full county board during its meeting on Thursday.





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