Are taxpayers bamboozled?

June 6, 2014 

Bamboozle: "To deceive, confuse, or puzzle through trickery."

Recently, Madison County Auditor Rick Faccin called into question the professionalism of County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler while County Board members called for a treasurer oversight committee. A casual observer might deem Faccin and his party's action amusing if not totally confusing. Weren't Faccin, County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan and their party on watch while their political colleague Fred Bathon took political contributions during rigged tax sales? Where was Faccin's oversight then?

Since taking office, Prenzler has reduced the treasurer's budget, reformed the tax sales and made sound investments according to Illinois law. Upon taking office, Prenzler discovered $42 million of the county's $105 million investment portfolio was invested outside of policy. In six consecutive days following Prenzler's election, the previous officeholder purchased $36 million in long-term bonds from one Little Rock, Ark., salesman without competitive bidding. Figures indicate Prenzler's predecessor lost $2.8 million before Prenzler was sworn in.

Following this fiasco, the then newly sworn in Prenzler invested county money according to Illinois law, which proscribes three priorities of safety, liquidity and yield. Just like other county treasurers, Prenzler wisely invested in two-year CDs or bonds. Faccin and some board members apparently want bonds invested outside of policy in riskier long-term bonds. (Perhaps with their Little Rock connection.)

Prenzler isn't losing money. Before his election, Madison County had $105 million and today has $135 million. What do you think? Is Faccin "bamboozling" the board and voters?

Philip W. Chapman

Highland

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