When Macon County residents vote in the April 4th election, they will be asked if they want to eliminate the office of the Macon County Auditor. The reason for the referendum being on the ballot is confusing — but here’s some clarity. Macon County Administrator Tamara Wilcox informed me that “A resolution was passed by the Macon County Board in January 2023 placing a county-wide referendum question on the ballot for the April 4, 2023 Election asking: ‘Shall Macon County eliminate the office of County Auditor, effective December 1, 2024?’”
It is easy to see why there is some confusion in the minds of the voters. Wilcox stated: “The duties and responsibilities of the Auditor’s Office are critical to county operations and will not go away if this is passed. The referendum would only be determining if the office holder would be elected or not. The County Board would have to hire a qualified person to oversee the duties of the office if the referendum should pass. Currently, there are only 17 counties in Illinois who still have an elected Auditor position.
“Macon County has been lucky to have Carol Reed as Auditor for the last 8 years, she is a certified public accountant and has done a great job with the county’s finances. The County Board feels like this is a good time to ask the voters to decide on this issue because Carol will be retiring at the end of her term.
“If this should pass it would probably not save the county money but it is vital that the next person to oversee this office be highly qualified. The duties of this office require someone with a high level of accounting and management experience.”
Thanks to Tammy for clearing up the confusion that the wording of the referendum generates. What it all means is that, when I cast my vote (and you cast your vote) on “Shall Macon County eliminate the office of County Auditor, effective December 1, 2024?”, regardless of the outcome of the vote, the auditor’s office remains. The only question the vote answers is whether the office will be an elected or appointed one. It probably would have been a little less confusing if the question on the ballot would be: “Shall Macon County eliminate the office of ELECTED County Auditor, effective December 1, 2024?”
• THE referendum question involving the auditor’s office brings to light a perspective that more than a few communities are considering. Some public offices, in the world of 2023, demand some qualifications for those serving in those offices, that go beyond a popularity contest to get elected. The advanced tools available in the digital age and the education and expertise required to deal with the demands of some public offices seemingly require a certain level of qualifications that many running for office do not possess. Voters often select a person to serve in an office because of party affiliation, name recognition or a publicizing of ideas — not necessarily because of established qualifications to perform the responsibilities of the position.
As we’ve found on the past few years, requirements to hold a sheriff’s position in Illinois are more stringent than they’ve been in the not-to-distant past. That begs the question, because of the complexity of law enforcement, should a sheriff be elected through popular vote, or appointed through his or her qualifications and experience that the position demands?
• THE CITY of Decatur’s city manager, police chief and fire chief are not elected by the people, but appointed to those positions. The city manager is hired by the city council and the police and fire chiefs are chosen by the city manager. We’ve had some outstanding police and fire chiefs over the many years that I’ve covered the city, and also been a part of city government as mayor. We’ve also had some excellent sheriffs in Macon County during that same period of time. So, both elected and appointed systems work. However, as the qualification and experience demands of elected positions continue to increase, the necessity of highly qualified individuals to serve in those offices also increases.
• I REMEMBER, years ago, an employee in one of the county offices told me that his boss, an elected official, had a computer on his desk, but it was for show because he didn’t even know how to turn it on — much less use it. Balancing the right of people to choose those individuals they want to serve in those offices with the need of highly-qualified individuals to efficiently run those offices, will continue to get attention and public service positions become more demanding in the digital age and beyond. That’s what we are witnessing in the question regarding the Macon County Auditor’s office that is on the April 4th ballot.
Present Auditor Carol Reed is a CPA and a great fit for the office since she is dealing with the county’s finances She is retiring and it is important to have someone take her place who is also qualified. That’s undoubtedly why the county board believes it is time to put the question of “elected” or “appointed” to the voters. Government bodies today must have people serving in critical positions who are qualified. When it comes to the auditor’s office, the way of selecting the next auditor is being left to the voters of Macon County to decide. The result of that vote will be especially interesting.
• CHADWICK? Some where along the internet highway my name got changed to “Chadwick”! I’m getting emails at the newspaper with the senders addressing me as “Chadwick”! Here’s the latest: “Hello Chadwick, Depending on your situation, you may qualify for automatic approval of disability benefits. This would make you eligible to receive up to $43,524 a month in financial support! Will you be one of the people receiving it? Chadwick – Click here to see if you are eligible for automatic approval. Sara Diaz Support Representative”
Hmmm. What kind of disability benefit pays $43,524 a month? I have notified Chadwick’s new friends of Audria, Crystal and Sara that there’s no Chadwick at this location. Maybe they have me confused with Chatsworth Osborne Jr., one of the recurring characters on the TV series “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” that aired from 1959-1963. Despite his family’s wealth and his claim to have one of the highest I.Q.s ever recorded in the Western Hemis-phere, Chatsworth goes to public school along with Dobie, Maynard, and Zelda.
• SO SAD — Doesn’t your heart ache for those poor victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria? It is difficult to comprehend what they are experiencing with the loss of so many loved ones and friends and virtually everything else that comprised their normal lives. There are so many touching images coming out of that devastation. Life on this earth is so fragile in so many ways — yet amazingly durable in other ways. If your loved ones are safe, you have so much to be thankful for these days — and all days.
• OUCH!!! Grocery prices are so high these days. The grocery bill for families has escalated to $300-$400 more per month! For those living on fixed incomes, the increase in grocery prices, power bills and about everything else, is devastating! When politicians tell us how great everything is, it makes me wonder if they live on this planet.
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00 for the City Hall Insider. We’ve discussed the issues impacting Decatur and our area about every Thursday for the past 20 years.