January 28, 2023
Election


Election

Chris Lauzen claims he can make Kane County $2M more in investment income, finance boss scoffs

County official resists Lauzen’s call to amend budget draft to reflect additional $2M

Republican Chris Lauzen, left, and Democrat Jeffrey Pripusich are running for Kane County treasurer.

Former Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen released a plan last week that he says would bring in $2 million in additional investment income that he would implement if elected county treasurer on Tuesday.

Lauzen initially made the claim — without offering details — at a League of Women Voters of Central Kane County candidate forum on Sept. 28 at the Geneva Public Library where he appeared with his Democratic opponent Jeffrey Pripusich. Lauzen released his plan a month later on Oct. 28.

“I have a plan that will be supervised daily; my opponent doesn’t. I’m ready to produce positive results even before Day 1,” Lauzen wrote in an email.

Lauzen’s plan includes identifying major problems in the Treasurer’s Office, to open the books and ask experts for help and to manage funds and liquidity for longer investment.

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.

Kane County Executive Finance Director Joe Onzick, however, disputed Lauzen’s idea about revenue. Onzick, who prepares the county’s budget, said much of the county’s investments are locked in and not available for reinvestment.

Onzick wrote that $91.4 million in county investments are locked into various accounts that do not mature until 2024 or later.

In addition to his plan, Lauzen sent an email announcement Oct. 28 that he was challenging the county to amend its fiscal year 2023 budget projections to include his $2 million pledge.

Onzick’s, in an email Board Chair Corinne Pierog, countered that the draft budget will not change the actual amount of interest to be earned, so there is no purpose in amending it.

“Bottom line is that changing the budget will not change the results, and would be an unnecessary waste of time and energy,” Onzick stated in his email.

Lauzen had also raised the idea of opening the county’s books for advice on increasing investment income at the candidate forum.

Former treasurer David Rickert had rejected a Lauzen plan to hire a consultant at the end of both their tenures in 2020 as too risky, making the county vulnerable to hackers and theft.

Rickert is now Chief Financial Officer for Winnebago County.

Lauzen disputed that having an investment consultant would open the county to hacking or theft. He also said the proposal at the end of 2020 was two years old and no longer relevant.

According to his plan, the county could have provided “‘view-only’ access (looking, but not touching), to make recommendations, just like other county treasurers employ,” Lauzen wrote.

Pripusich questioned the idea of opening the county’s books to consultants, both at the candidate forum and after reviewing Lauzen’s eight-point plan.

“Here’s a thought – you don’t know more than the experienced teams in the Treasurer’s Office and Finance Department, you can’t predict the future, and you can’t make guarantees for return on investments,” Pripusich said. “Market conditions and interest rates have a significant impact on how well investments perform. High risk ideas will endanger the safety and liquidity of Kane County revenues.”

Brenda Schory

Brenda Schory

Brenda Schory covers Geneva, crime and courts, and features for the Kane County Chronicle