LaSalle County Seal

LaSalle County Seal

The LaSalle County Board voted in favor Thursday of creating a county-wide referendum to let voters decide in 2020 if they want to abolish the elected office of the auditor. 

Following a majority consensus of county board members, the measure appeared on Thursday's county board agenda and 20 board members voted in favor while five voted against. 

The passage, of course, follows acquittals for current auditor Jody Wilkinson of rural Sandwich, former deputy auditor Tori Artman of Mendota and dropped theft and misconduct charges for former deputy auditor Pamela Wright of Ottawa.

Prosecutors alleged that Artman received $1,358 and Wright received $1,672 in overtime pay that did not qualify for overtime compensation with Wilkinson listed as a co-conspirator.

However, Judge Michael Jansz found Wilkinson not guilty and a jury found Artman not guilty before charges against Wright were abandoned.

The county board fired the deputy auditors and both are contesting their terminations with the Illinois Department of Labor. Wilkinson, an elected official who was granted judicial approval during the case to return to her office, is now suing for the reinstament of her deputies.

According to court records, two judges within the county have recused themselves for an outside judge.

In regard to the county board's referendum approval, it won't involve Wilkinson, who announced back in 2016 she would not be seeking another term.

If a majority of voters approve the referendum, the county will be required to eliminate the auditor position. 

Officials say those in favor of letting voters decide argue that the county board could fulfill the duties of the position with a recently hired finance director instead of anyone who decides to run for the seat without expertise. The other argument is to essentially save money.

Those in opposition believe voters should elect a person and some said that other offices not statutorily required should be looked at for elimination as well, if the auditor's office is up for elimination. 

When LaSalle County surpassed 75,000 in population, the position of auditor was created.

Currently, surrounding counties like Kendall, DeKalb, Grundy and others do not have auditor posts.

The county auditor's office examines bills, reimbursements and payments, accounts for financials, and is audited itself by an outside accounting firm each year.

The position is concurrently up for election and anyone who runs for the seat would be subject to not being seated if the referendum passes, as the county set November 30th, 2020 as the date the position would be eliminated.