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  • Writer's pictureTricia Babischkin

Board Packet Review: February 23, 2021

Before I begin the review of the board packet, I want to call out that we've been without the ability to have an in person meeting since the end of August last year. In fact, since I started attending in May of 2020, we've had exactly ONE in person meeting and ONE hybrid meeting. Despite the pledges of dedication to transparency we heard at the last meeting, McHenry County's infection rates are dropping and the governor expiring the Executive Orders for fully remote meetings and allowing for up to 50 people to be present in person again -- you would think that our "transparent" board would welcome the return to in person meetings. Nope -- actually, it appears that this board would rather hide from the public while they do the nefarious work of trying to destroy the last remaining piece of legacy knowledge in this village. There's a word for this -- cowardly; which is sadly the theme of this board meeting. I realize it is a lot harder to be underhanded when you have to sit in the room with the public judging your actions.


1. Request Approval of Bill Lists: a. Accounts Payable Invoices Dated February 24, 2021 in the Amount of $113,783.84

2. Request Approval of Financial Statements: a. Village Financial Statements for the Periods May 1, 2020 through October 31, 2020

This is the first set of financials from the new converted system. In December, when I was asking questions about the tax levy, I asked about the conversion and was promised by our CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer/HR Director that she was going to personally confirm that all the financials were converted over perfectly. Given my experience with her attention to detail, I double checked things.

A note on my process -- I took the end of September approved financials YTD number by line item and compared it to the October YTD to see if the difference equaled the activity in October. Had the conversion been done correctly, these should have tied out. Also, I would have thought that this would have been the same double check that our CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer/HR Director would have done. I know that process is taught in business programs and I worked with a CFO in the past that showed me his detailed process for confirming that the numbers were correct.

What did I learn:

  • 38 General Ledger line items do not pass the October YTD = September YTD + October Activity test

  • This is a $95,257.50 swing in the finances that really needs to be explained

  • Additionally, there is NO cash statement -- this has always been in our financials and given the suddenly missing $123,000 from the Impact Fee Fund, I have to wonder why we don't have the cash position in either October or November's financials

  • There's a math error in the operating income per round sheet -- as I highly doubt the $247/round number for our golf course -- it was a good year, but was it that good?

  • Admittedly this one is petty--- but could our financials be presented in any sloppier format? These are our records of our money; to be presented to your BOSS at a business meeting -- is this worthy work product of a highly compensated CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer/HR Director?

I would like this board to pull these financials and ask our CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer/HR Director and our Treasurer to please take a look and correct these reports before asking the board to approve this work. How in the world can we be confident that the numbers are accurate -- and why wouldn't you confirm that your numbers tie out when doing a mid-year accounting conversion?

b. Village Financial Statements for the Periods May 1, 2020 through November 30, 2020.

Given the situation with October, I see no point in looking at November -- however, the board should not approve this until the numbers are validated.

3. Motion to Approve an Ordinance No. 2021-(06) – An Ordinance Amending Section 15.03, Modification of State Speed Limit in Certain Zones, of Chapter 15, Traffic Regulations, of the Lakewood Municipal Code

Yay! when is the board going to roll this out to the rest of the village as was recommended in the traffic calming meeting minutes we saw in the previous meeting?

4. Motion to Approve Resolution R(03) – A resolution to Authorize the Sale of the Surplus Public Real Estate

This is part of the tabled items from the last meeting regarding the sale of the property on Shade Tree Circle. However, this one needs some explaining -- basically, why is this written differently than previous disposal of public property?

Here's the Ordinance from the meeting before this last one where we added RedTail lots to the disposal list:

Then on February 9th, this was the tabled ordinance for the Shade Tree lot -- which is in line with the above ordinance:

But this is what is in the consent agenda for this week's meeting? From the attached email, it appears that our attorney wrote this specifically for the Shade Tree lot -- which makes me ask the question why? It might be fully legit -- but I'm curious as to why this one is being done very differently than the prior ones.

5. Items Removed from Consent Agenda - If Any

DEAR BOARD -- PLEASE REMOVE THE FINANCIALS FROM THE CONSENT AGENDA AND TABLE THEM UNTIL THEY ARE CORRECTED. (for what it's worth -- if you have found things that need to be updated in prior periods, it is my understanding that you should bring an amended financial statement to the board for approval -- not just change things and hope no one notices. Again, process matters.)


6. Motion to Approve Ordinance No. 2021-(05) – An Ordinance Amending Section 2.04 to Chapter 2 of the Lakewood Municipal Code

So, what is trying to be done here is to allow Phil to appoint a deputy clerk. My understanding of the IL constitution is that no municipality can give themselves powers not granted by the State of IL (we are not home ruled). So following this, the IL code states that a Clerk can appoint a deputy clerk. Full stop. It doesn't give the power to the President to appoint a clerk -- it says a Clerk appoints the deputy. Then look at this little interesting tidbit of IL Code:

The highlighted bit says the Deputy Clerk would sign the Clerk's Name followed by the word "by" and the deputy clerk's own name. Additionally, the next section says that the powers and duties of the deputy clerk shall be exercised only in the absence of the clerk and 'only when either written direction has been given by the clerk to that deputy to exercise a power....'

So, think of it this way -- the deputy clerk is an extension of the clerk's office -- without a clerk there is no deputy. I'm sure our Village Attorney will fully explain why this isn't possible. I'll help, Mr. Smoron, the code you are looking for is 65 ILCS 5/3.1-10-45 details the appointment of subordinates.

I fully expect that this board will pass this anyway, with exactly zero regard to the law, but know that this is not supposed to be like this. But what I find really interesting is that this ordinance is already set-up to have a Deputy Clerk (who doesn't exist at this point) attest to the motion that would given Phil the power to appoint them. Basically, it's an order of operation problem -- how can the Deputy Clerk attest to something that has been passed PRIOR to her appointment.

7. Motion authorizing Village President to appoint Karen Crowe as Deputy Clerk.

Based on the fact the President should not have the power to appoint a deputy clerk, this motion should not happen.

8. Motion to Approve HR Green as Phase III Engineer for Haligus Road STP Project

Let's take a break from clerk drama to talk about the Phase III Engineer for Haligus Road. The net of the documentation is that our CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer/HR Director sat with Phil and a PW Employee and determined that we should go with the Engineering firm we've been working with all along. I think the director of Public Works should have likely been included, but he was on vacation this past week and I'm sure this internal meeting could not have been scheduled around his time off.

Anyway, unexpectedly HR Green was given full points for their proposal and the other company was not. Of the reasons not to give full marks was that Gewalt Hamliton had less experience in Phase III projects -- however, they gave the village 5 references to HR Green's 3. But ok.

All of this said, I've been told that HR Green makes all of their engineering work proprietary -- meaning that they would likely not turn over the work from prior phases if we had selected another engineering company. I don't know if this is accurate -- but it could explain why the incumbent got full points.

9. Village President’s reporting of reasons to the Village’s Corporate Authorities for his removal of Jan Hansen from the offices of the Village Clerk, FOIA Officer and any other office she may hold.

As of this typing, it is my understanding that Phil has not informed Jan that he is removing her from her office. Without that notice, he can not report the reasons to the board for her removal as she has not in fact been removed.

I realize I go through this a lot; but process seems to be something that Phil and team struggle with. If he wants to remove the clerk, he needs to TELL THE CLERK. She shouldn't be reading it for the first time on this site. He needs to step up and have the courage to tell the longest serving clerk in McHenry County that he's removing her.

Since he failed to do this, he can read his reasons all he wants, but he will be still need to call a special meeting not less than 5 and not more than 10 days from now to do it all again. Because again -- he needs to tell her.

10. Motion to remove Jan Hansen from the offices of Village Clerk, FOIA Officer and any other office she may hold, terminating her employment with the Village and directing Village Staff to effectuate termination of her employment by the Village.

So -- if even if #9 was done properly, this item should not be on the agenda. You see the board doesn't vote to remove the clerk (or any appointed officer) -- the board MAY overturn the removal with a 2/3 majority of the corporate authority. Essentially, this should be worded the other way around and vote to overturn the removal; not to vote to remove.

This looks like it's going to be a rough meeting -- with every Tuesday night I hope that this board will step up and do the right thing. And every Tuesday I'm disappointed in them. I long for a board who will honor process and procedure, who will speak with respect to each other and to residents, and who will do the right thing -- even when it's hard.

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