GENEVA – Republican Chris Lauzen has promised voters if they elect him Kane County treasurer next month, he has a plan that will earn taxpayers an extra $2 million in interest income a year.
Exactly what that plan entails, however, remains to be seen. The former Kane County Board chairman said he plans to go public with the details 11 days before the election.
“I will unveil my 8-point plan at the appropriate time … by the end of the fourth full week in October,” Lauzen said in an email. “Build the momentum!”
Lauzen mentioned his plan during a League of Women Voters of Central Kane County forum with his Democratic opponent Jeffrey Pripusich on Sept. 28 at the Geneva Public Library.
Lauzen has declined to elaborate. In an email to the Kane County Chronicle, he said he is withholding the details of his $2 million plan so media won’t allow Pripusich to say, “Oh, yeah, me, too!”
“The amount of interest income now being earned is approximately 1.5%,” Lauzen said at the forum. “My promise to you is that I’ll earn for Kane County taxpayers an extra $2 million more of interest income per year. … Up until April of this year, the county’s current administration was earning one-half of one penny per year interest from the bankers.”
Lauzen said the county should be earning more interest income on its $250 million in reserves.
According to his campaign website, www.lauzen.com, he refers to that amount as what was available when he left office at the end of 2020.
Lauzen said if voters choose him as the next county treasurer in the Nov. 8 general election, they would be investing $100,000 for his salary, and he pledged “a 20-times return per year on that investment.”
“It’s only the first and easiest step to know what to do in our current situation. Even more important to know how to do it and who to ask for help,” Lauzen said at the League forum. “We need to open the books and ask for outside help.”
Lauzen cited his work as an accountant, his 20 years as a state senator and eight years as former county board chairman for this expertise.
Pripusich challenged Lauzen’s assertion that he could bring in $2 million in extra income a year.
Pripusich brought up a previous Lauzen proposal for hiring an outside consultant for former treasurer David Rickert and current appointed treasurer Michael Kilbourne.
“Both gentlemen flatly rejected the strategy as being too aggressive and too high risk and not a good fit for Kane County,” Pripusich said at the forum.
Kilbourne did not respond to two voicemail messages seeking comment.
Rickert said Pripusich restated his concerns accurately at the forum in relation to Lauzen’s statement about asking for outside help and opening the books.
Lauzen said Rickert and Pripusich were referring to a proposal that was nearly two years old and no longer relevant.
“The former treasurer and I have never spoken about my commitment to taxpayers to earn for them an extra $2 million per year in interest income,” Lauzen said in an email. “So literally and unfortunately, he doesn’t know what plan he’s actually talking about in this instance. (What he may be referring to would be two years old and not relevant).”
Treasurer’s office restrictions
Rickert, who is now the Winnebago County Chief Financial Officer, said interest rates for government funds in Illinois are restricted.
“The treasurer’s office does not have a lot of discretion,” Rickert said. “We are restricted by state law specifically and Kane County also has an investment policy. The rate of return is going to be more [going forward] because the interest rates are up. It does not make a difference who the treasurer is.”
In an email, Lauzen wrote that it is Pripusich who does not have a plan.
“Just because he [Pripusich] has no plan to do things better doesn’t mean that there are not significant improvements that should be made by someone with broad, deep and specific proven experience,” Lauzen’s email said.
Pripusich said he has a plan “to sit down with the top accounting officials in the treasure’s office to do a thorough review of the investment policy and strategy.”
“To scrutinize what’s working and what needs to be improved, all as a means of being proactive and reactive to market conditions and interest rates,” Pripusch said.
At the League forum, Lauzen said he had 27 years of experience as an accountant, including starting an accounting business that provided services for 200 small businesses a month. Pripusich said he has 37 years of experience in private sector corporate accounting with a focus on accounts receivable.
The full interview is available on the League’s Facebook page at www.youtube.com.