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Archive for the ‘Finance Committee’ Category

Paula Jacobsen

The latest Village newsletter came out recently, and it mentions the results of the latest Village annual audit among other things. The sound financial position of our Village is noted, but what is absent of any narrative is how earlier this year, first term trustee Paula Jacobsen caused a potentially damaging accusation that caused the auditor to investigate that accusation.

One question Jacobson was asked to answer during the audit was:

“In your opinion, are there any areas of operation of the Village that do not receive enough oversight of management or board, or any particular weaknesses in internal controls?” 

Jacobsen checked off “Yes.” As a Trustee, she could have taken the opportunity beforehand to gather specific information and to offer a detailed explanation or perhaps even actual facts, but instead submitted her vague audit questionnaire on March 17, 2019 (perhaps hoping to disrupt the April 2 election?).

Jacobson had a wealth of resources at her disposal for weeks before if she had any questions whatsoever on completing her forms from the audit firm. She could have easily gathered information from the Village Treasurer, Director of Administration, Clerk or even the Trustee assigned to Finance, but she did not avail herself of those ample opportunities according to recordings. She could have provided an answer to the question she was asked instead of repeating an anonymous rumor told to her by some residents.

Instead, when asked why she answered “Yes” to the audit question, her initial answer was:

“While I don’t know that it is considered fraud, but some residents have claimed that contracts are being given to certain members of family of the Board, however, that is not evidence of guilt. I don’t know that we have a clear process to evaluate this if in fact this is happening.   I’m not aware of any contract awarded to a Board member.” 

The first thought that came to our minds upon hearing this was that of an immature four-year-old who answers the question “why did you eat those cookies?” with, “Someone said I could.”

Though asked repeatedly, Jacobson would not, or more probably could not offer any specificity to her unsubstantiated allegation, and at times her answers to Trustees questions on her inexplicable answer changed from one minute or meeting month to another.

For example, before the auditor was asked to read back her answer to the question in the presence of the Board, Jacobsen denied checking the “Yes” box repeatedly. She also denied making any claim or charge of process or fraud issues, and she only began to recant her statements once the village president asked the auditor to read them into the record.

Jacobson also stated on more than one occasion that she understood that her responses to all audit questions were private and would be kept anonymous.   Those wishing to listen to the recording of this exchange can do so by clicking here.

She followed up at the June Board of Trustees meeting by reading a written statement that actually reversed her position in May. She stated she believes that fraud and processes have been violated at the Village, and further she made a secondary allegation that the auditing firm was not independent thereby impugning the reputation of the village treasurer, the independent auditor and the finance chairman Mr. Croll and the Village board.

If this sounds pathetic, it is, and it goes on (and on). Rather than continue with what is basically transcribing her lunacy from recordings, we have a better solution for all involved.

The solution to this problem will be for the village to spend further taxpayer dollars to “investigate” the rumor that someone repeated to Jacobson, and then hopefully follow that by providing educational information to Jacobson on the importance and serious nature of the annual financial audit so that in the future she may confidently answer the audit questionnaire with facts instead of vague, unfounded rumor.

-The Observer

Related: Flip, Flop: What changed your minds Trustees Messer, Meroni, and Selman?  (August 30, 2011)

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Four years ago we asked readers of The Observer to trust our judgment when voting for 3 new trustees to be on our Village Board of Trustees (see Croll, Maison and Cecola for Barrington Hills Trustees).

In what turned out to be a hard fought, oft times contentious campaign, some may have thought we were asking for a leap of faith from our readers, and we continue to appreciate the confidence bestowed upon us by our readers. Though this year’s campaign is the quietest we’ve witnessed in 10 years, the stakes are no less high than they were four years ago.

Five residents are running for three seats on our Board of Trustees. Two residents are incumbent Trustees, one is a current member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, the other two ran unsuccessfully for village positions in 2017.   Here are our thoughts on these five candidates:

Louis Iacovelli: Louis seems like an affable guy in the computer software business. His campaign website is well done, though it would be more suitable to have photo of a location in the Village on the home page and not unincorporated McHenry County.

We cannot support Louis candidacy for the simple reason his wife, Gigi Iacovelli, is the treasurer of the Barrington Hills Park District. Currently a candidate for election on the park board herself, she derives at least part of her income by providing lessons at the district. While this is not a direct conflict of interest, the potential for lack of objectivity may cause concern in a trustee position.

Linda H. Cools: Linda ran as a write-in candidate for trustee 2 years ago, and after two recent Board of Election hearings, she is running for trustee on the April 2nd ballot.

The best thing one can say about Linda is she will do anything to get elected. This was evidenced by the fact that she (‘misspoke’) under oath multiple times to the Village President, President Pro-Tem and the Deputy Village clerk (see Truth or consequences). We have no place in such a small village for unrepentant (misspeakers)!

Buettner

Debra Buettner: Debra had served on the Zoning Board of Appeals for nearly 4 years when President McLaughlin asked her to consider running for Trustee. When she asked if he needed her help, he replied “Yes.” And that’s why she’s running today.

Debra founded her law firm about the same time she moved to the village nearly thirty years ago.   She is a graduate of Barrington High School, and she has her CPA as well as a law degree. Her confident attitude and her experience on the Zoning Board warrant our endorsement for Board of Trustees.

Cecola

Brian D. Cecola: Brian became a Trustee in 2015 and was given responsibility for Roads and Bridges as well as Public Safety.   No one adequately prepared him for the conditions he would be inheriting, but as most residents now recognize, he was up for the challenge and then some.

Brian also graduated from Barrington High School and he also owns his own business. He and his wife, Stephanie, and their three children are active in the community, participating in the neighborhood clean up days and riding trail maintenance.

Brian is also very active in philanthropy, is President of the Lions Club, and helped found and run the Fourth of July tent and fireworks. Despite all this, when President McLaughlin asked him to serve another term, he agreed, and he has our wholehearted endorsement.

Bryan C. Croll: Bryan was also elected to the Board of Trustees in 2015. He has been in charge of monitoring the finances of the village with the day-to-day oversight Peggy Hirsch, Village Treasurer.   He and Peggy also keep track of police pension fund performance.

Bryan and his wife Josie have three children and he manages his family business remotely in Arizona.   He donates his spare time to causes such as Barrington Area Conservation Trust and the local riding club.

We had some concerns with Bryan’s willingness to work with others early on in his first term. We now are equally concerned with his motivations in seeking a second term, and this publication cannot in good conscience unreservedly endorse him.   

Overall endorsements: The Daily Herald, Village President Martin McLaughlin and President Pro-Tem Colleen Konicek Hannigan have endorsed Bryan Croll, Brian Cecola and Debra Buettner for Trustees of Barrington Hills.

Cecola and Buettner have the unconditional support of The Barrington Hills Observer. Both have demonstrated a passion for our Village and willingness to serve our community. Both display the honesty, dedication and sound judgement that will represent the residents of Barrington Hills admirably for the next four years.

Early voting ends today, April 1.  Election Day polls open tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM.

Please Vote!

 

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Bryan Croll, Debra A. Buettner and Brian D. Cecola

In keeping with what is becoming something of a tradition in otherwise bucolic Barrington Hills, voters are being treated to a feisty race for the village board in the April 2 election.

Three trustee seats are up for election, and cameras seem to be a campaign focus one way or another.

We did not endorse Cecola and Croll when they first ran in 2015, but they have delivered on their campaign promises. Spending has been cut as has the village property tax levy, and the village website has been improved.

We endorse them for re-election. Buettner is a potentially good teammate with sound judgment and experience. She wins our endorsement, too

Read the full Daily Herald endorsement here.

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Every year around this time, we reach out to Northwest suburban mayors and village presidents and ask them to tell us something their community accomplished in the year gone by and something they hope accomplish in the year ahead. Today, we share the accomplishments of 2018. On Tuesday, we’ll tell you what the mayors hope to see in 2019.

Martin J. McLaughlin, Barrington Hills

Good news to report to the residents of Barrington Hills: the local tax levy has — once again — decreased, making 2018 the fifth year in a row that our residents will realize tax savings. Since 2013, the levy has consistently decreased, thus far a total of 24 percent. In Barrington Hills, we are doing more with less. Another highlight is the 2018 Roads Program. (the village) exceeded the miles of paved roads by 50 percent. In 2018, working with our new village engineers, the village of Barrington Hills was able to improve a record high 4.79 miles of local roads.

Read the full Daily Herald article here.

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Illinois’ General Assembly, which had finally approved a budget but failed to act on an amendment regarding property tax freezes, should take a harder look at itself, Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin said during a recent interview.

“What is ridiculous is the General Assembly that hasn’t had the ability to deliver a balanced budget in years and refuses to address the public pension debacle that is a large contributor to the tax burden are the ones pointing to other entities as the problem,” McLaughlin told the Lake County Gazette.

Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin

McLaughlin said he has some experience doing what lawmakers in the Illinois General Assembly need to be doing. “As a village president that has reduced our Barrington Hills levy four out of my five years in office I am all for a freeze,” he said.

“However I would prefer a 15 percent reduction from all taxing bodies that make up our property tax bills – school districts, townships, community colleges, library districts, fire districts, abatement districts and others,” he said. ” Elected and appointed officials need to understand that Illinois taxpayers are in serious trouble. We are declining in population as people give up and move out of our state.”

To read the full article in the Lake County Gazette, click here.

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VBH__LogoThe Village Board will meet on tonight September 25th at 6:30 PM. The agenda and e-Packet can be found here.

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VBH__LogoThe Village Board will meet on Monday August 28th at 6:30 PM. The agenda can be viewed here and the e-Packet can be found here.

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