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DuPage County clerk to county: Pay my bills

DuPage County clerk to county: Pay my bills

DuPage County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek is threatening a legal fight unless existing bills for her office are paid and the county auditor is no longer involved in approving future invoices.

In a Tuesday memo to DuPage County Board Chairwoman Deborah Conroy, Kaczmarek requested that all the invoices approved by her office be submitted to the treasurer for payment. The move would bypass approval from the county auditor.

If the invoices are not paid, Kaczmarek said she would “instruct the state’s attorney to commence legal action on my behalf in my official capacity.”

Jean Kaczmarek

The request from Kaczmarek comes weeks after county board members said the clerk’s office violated state laws on competitive bidding by awarding no-bid contracts for election-related services.

The clerk’s office defended its actions, saying it was working within its legal authority and that the contracts were with vendors who have provided services in previous elections.

Conroy responded to Kaczmarek on Wednesday. In the memo, Conroy wrote that part of the auditor’s duties are to “audit all claims against the county and recommend to the county board the payment or rejection of all claims presented.”

Conroy said that only the state’s attorney can determine if legal action is necessary.

Although questions remain if the clerk’s office followed proper procedures when hiring some vendors, Conroy said eight invoices, totaling about $371,000, will be paid.

Four invoices, totaling roughly $224,000, have not been submitted to the treasurer for payment. In some instances, procedures set up by Kaczmarek’s own office were not followed, Conroy said.

In two cases, signatures needed to approve payment were missing or had the signature of a clerk’s employee who was not authorized to approve payment.

In the other two instances, the clerk’s office didn’t have the money needed in the designated accounts to pay the bills.

Deborah Conroy

Conroy expressed frustration about a lack of proper documentation “once again” taking up time from the auditor, state’s attorney and other county staff.

Last month, Conroy described ongoing disputes with the clerk’s office as a “mess” and said county staff has held conversations “ad nauseam” over billing questions.

“Your office’s lack of productive engagement in resolving the documentation issues with these invoices signals a disturbing and continuing disregard of generally accepted government accounting standards and principles which guide all officeholders,” Conroy wrote in her response to Kaczmarek.

On Friday, Adam Johnson, chief deputy county clerk, pointed to a 2023 Illinois Attorney General opinion that, he says, supports the clerk’s view that the county cannot interfere in how Kaczmarek spends her budget.

Johnson added that the clerk’s office only learned this week that there were questions regarding signatures on invoices.

Johnson said he plans to be at Tuesday’s county board meeting. He said Kaczmarek, at this point, was not planning to attend.

He added the clerk’s office is reviewing Conroy’s response.

“We’re assessing the next steps, but we haven’t taken any action since that memo was received,” Johnson said.