• Tricia Babischkin

What does Oversight Really Mean?

Our Village board is charged with the oversight of our village finances. This means that they are charged, by both our Village Code and State Code, to be the final say that every single dollar spent in our village is entirely appropriate. That is the reason the invoices are approved by the board in every board meeting -- yes, most of those expenses fall well below the approval limits of the various department heads and even our CAO -- but the board has the final say.


Our Village Code outlines several layers of oversight that is required to be good stewards of our tax dollars. Think of it like an onion, our Village Employees determine the needs and submit requests. Those requests are reviewed by the Supervisors and Department Heads to

ensure that they are valid, needed and budgeted. The CAO as our Financial Director

ensures that the budget is completed, that the spending is legitimate, is properly

documented, and that the Village’s Bills are paid (hopefully on time). Then there’s our Village Treasurer who provides yet another layer of review and oversight, with the final layer of oversight being our Board who provides the final review and approval of all of the Village’s

spending.


This past Tuesday, once again, we saw Amy Odom attempt to ask questions and start a discussion about agenda items. While both initially Pam Eddy and Brian Augustine attempted to facilitate that discussion, ultimately Phil, Doug, Dan, and Ryan again tried to intimidate and insult Amy into silence, with Mr. Berman going so far as saying that the Amy’s questions were a waste of the Board’s time.


On one point, I will say Mr. Berman was correct - the expense that Amy was asking

about was in fact within Gary’s authority to make, and as our Public Works Director he’s

also well qualified to make the determination if an item is needed for the Department.

However, the entire reason that the question came up is because it’s the Board’s

responsibility to approve the Bill Lists. The Bill Lists are sent to the Board for approval

so that they can provide the required financial oversight of Village Operations. By

providing that approval, they are telling the CAO, Village Employees, and the residents

that they not only are allowing the money to be spent, but also that they understand

exactly what that money is being used for. Except based on Mr. Berman’s comments as

well as the stated agreement to those comments from both Mr. Alexander and Mr Ulrich

- that’s not the case. Ryan clearly stated that because the amount being spent was

within the approval limit for Gary that he doesn’t care what the money was spent on,

and that he (as well as Doug and Dan) felt that it was a waste of the Board’s time to

discuss such things… Think about that for a minute - Trustee Ryan Berman, along with

Trustee Doug Ulrich, and Trustee Dan Alexander publicly stated that they not only don’t

know what our Departments are spending their money on, they don’t care what our

Departments are spending their money on if the expenditures are keep small enough,

and they felt it was a waste of the Board’s time to provide financial oversight of the

Village.


Every leadership role I’ve every been it’s been important to me to both know and

understand every item that was brought to me to approve. Every leader I’ve every

worked for be it a junior manager or a corporate officer placed a priority on

understanding what they approved for me. They didn’t do this because they didn’t trust

me, nor was it because they were second guessing my recommendations. They did it

because their approval meant that they were taking some level of responsibility for what

they were approving. As an approver, should something go wrong or there be a problem with the action that they approved, they now have some level of responsibility for what

happened and because of that it was important to them that they understood just what

they were approving. It makes you wonder if Trustees Berman, Ulrich, and Alexander

know what they’re doing?


Not only that, but Phil and Ryan both accused Amy of not reviewing the Board packet -

which if true would mean that Amy wouldn’t have had questions about the items in the

packet. If anything, Ryan, Doug, and Dan’s comments would seem to indicate that

they’re the ones who don’t review the packet. At the very least, their comments that

since the spending was under the approval limit for the Department Head and therefore

no discussion was needed would indicate that neither of them are paying attention to

the contents of the packet.


The thing is, our Board shouldn’t need to question every expenditure the Village makes.

Our Department Heads are qualified to make spending decisions within the limits set

out by the Village Code. But those spending limits don’t relieve the Board of their

responsibilities to not just review, but also understand what the Village is spending it’s

money on - no matter how large or small that transaction is. When a Board member

asks questions about an expense, they’re exercising their Fiduciary Responsibility to

provide oversight over the Village’s spending. If Phil, Ryan, Doug, and Dan don’t

understand what the Village is spending it’s money on, if they believe that asking

questions around the Bill List are a waste of the Board’s time - what are they doing on

the Board?

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