Yesterday the Finance Committee of the Mental Health Board met to discuss the potential of an audit. Cal Skinner’s McHenry County Blog has a very good write up on the audit portion. While it wasn’t the “full up” audit that I, personally, wanted – I do think it will be a step in the right direction.
However – what I would like to focus your attention on is on the list item up for action the agenda which you can download as a PDF.
This was an open discussion of how bills were paid by the 708 Board. I have scanned in the page from the packet handed out at the meeting that pertains to this agenda item. You can download it here in PDF format.
The discussion revolved around how the 708 Board itself would review the bills in order to become more transparent with the county and the public. This should be commended by everyone. Heavily discussed and ultimately approved was option two. Option two requires all the bills to be approved by the board before mailing the check.
Mary McCann’s Concern
Concerns were brought forward on this option by Mrs. Mary McCann (Woodstock), Chairwoman of the McHenry County Board Finance and Audit Committee as well as Ms. Jane Wacker of the 708 Board Staff.
McCann’s concerns are about the county’s ability to be able to control such an influx of activity in such a short amount of time. She is not sure if the capability was there or if it is something that Mrs. Pam Palmer (Union), McHenry County Auditor, will have to work on.
McCann does have a valid point. Can the county handle this new process and improve transparency? If the answer is yes, and it should be, then excellent – lets move on. If the answer is no, then the people with power to fix the problem need to move with great haste.
Leaders must look at the process or processes that are currently in place of how these bills from the 708 board are put through the vigorous financial checks and balances and then seek to improve them. This should not be a problem that persists on for a month or more. It may be a challenge but it should be welcomed with open arms.
We simply cannot give up because it is difficult. And while this may not be the message the Chairwoman was trying to send it was the message that was being received, at least in the gallery.
The truth is that the taxpayers really do not know what the capabilities and limitations of our county government are. It isn’t something McCann knows either – and she shouldn’t have to. That level of fidelity on the spot would be nice but we just do not know… but Palmer should know and I hope the Chairwoman asks the question quickly. We all want answers but there is a process that needs to be followed and we will follow it. And we all know the county board is all about following the process.
Jane Wacker’s Concerns
Wacker was concerned about the processes that would have to be put in place for the staff in order to execute such a plan. Moreover, she was concerned if some of the providers didn’t file a claim by a certain date.
The 708 board made the recommendation we start this as soon as possible. This will allow Wacker and her leadership team to develop the processes and tools she needs to help make this happen. She has a good team in place and there is a little time to make this happen.
Wacker’s other concern was billing to which Trustee Routzahn had a brilliant response. He simply stated that if the bills didn’t get in on time they would not be paid on. Imagine that – make sure you file your bill on or you will have to wait a month for your payment. This is such a brilliant idea.
I think the concerns posed by McCann and Wacker are legitimate. I also think these problems are solvable and quickly solvable. The efforts put forth by those in the 708 Board Finance Committee are are very good start. However, lets not kid ourselves. There is a lot of work that needs to be done.