PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria County Auditor’s office may be no more in a matter of years.
Voters will make the decision by way of a referendum on the ballots this fall.
“The voters voted in 2018 to keep the Auditor’s Office, the voters voted in 2018 to elect me, and the voters voted in 2020 to re-elect me,” said Peoria County Auditor Jessica Thomas.
Auditor Thomas is fighting against the Referendum seen on the ballots this fall. She also disagrees with the wording of it.
“Shall Peoria County eliminate the internal Office of County Auditor when Peoria County already has an external Auditor as required by state law? This would be a cost savings of approximately $150,000 annually,” the referendum reads.
“The Auditor’s 2022 budget is $112,750. No money would be saved. That money would not go back to the taxpayers. There wouldn’t be any tax in the tax amount, there won’t be a rebate. It’s not a savings,” Thomas said.
WMBD pressed the County Board on where they got the $150,000 from. Administrator Scott Sorrel sent the breakdown of the number.
“$150,000 is a combination of several things, not all found in the Office’s departmental budget. The other things can include the County’s contribution to things like IMRF (pension costs), FICA (federal payoff tax), and Medicare, employer share of health insurance costs, etc.,” said Sorrel.
WMBD spoke with Vice Chairman Jim Fennell about the Board’s decision to raise this issue again. He told WMBD it’s not a personal attack on Jessica Thomas, but on the position itself.
“The Auditor’s Office hasn’t found one thing in 12 years to send back to the Board. What is the County getting? What are the taxpayers getting? They’re getting nothing,” Fennell said.
Fennell said the County uses an External Auditor to look over everything, and that by living in a much more digital age, he said it’s repetitive to have multiple auditors.
“Technology has improved so much. When I first got on, it was scattered all over the place in different filing cabinets. Now everything is scanned and put on the computer, so now anyone who wants to question anything, it’s there,” Fennell said.
If the referendum passes, Thomas would finish out her term, which goes until Dec. 1, 2024.
Thomas has filed two lawsuits against the County Board. One had to do with the wording of the referendum. She believes the wording is not neutral.
WMBD also spoke with State’s Attorney Jodi Hoos, who tells us the lawsuit on the wording has been dismissed.