McHenry County Fails Transparency Audit

The Illinois Policy Institute conducted transparency audits with all 102 Illinois counties and the one to the south of us–Kane County–took top honors with a score of 100%.

McHenry County was singled out for comment as follows:

‘The largest county to fail a transparency audit was McHenryCounty with a 56.4 percent. McHenry County is the sixth most populated county in Illinois with 308,760 citizens.”
How did Kane County get a perfect score?
“In 2012, Kane County became thefirst county in the state to score a 100 percent on the Institute’s 10-Point Transparency Checklist. At their request the Institute worked directly with the staff in order to help them obtain this accomplishment.”
Which other counties did well?
The top twelve county governments in transparency, according to the Illinois Policy Institute.

The top twelve county governments in transparency, according to the Illinois Policy Institute.

You can see how counties throughout the state came out of the audit below:
The 2013 transparency audit of county governments by the Illinois Policy Institute showed the results on the map above.

The 2013 transparency audit of county governments by the Illinois Policy Institute showed the results on the map above.

Here are the aspects of the Illinois Policy Institute’s transparency check list:

10-Point Transparency Checklist

1. Contact information:

Officials are elected to represent their constituents, and administrative staffers are knowledgeable resources who provide important constituent services. In order to effectively perform their jobs, these officials should be engaged in regular dialogue with the public. Making contact information readily available online will make these public officials as accessible as possible.

2. Public meetings:

To stay informed and engaged in the democratic process, the public must know when a public body meets and what issues will be discussed. This information should be shared through calendars, agendas and board packets. The public also should receive timely reports about what actually occurred at public meetings in the form of meeting minutes.

3. Public information:

While a website with comprehensive transparency will substantially decrease the public’s need to file FOIA requests, it is still important for citizens to know how to access additional public information. FOIA requests provide an important means through which the public can obtain information regarding the activities of government agencies. This process should be transparent and give the public multiple ways to submit requests.

4. Budgets:

Budgets tell taxpayers how much of their money governments plan to spend. They show what goals and priorities a government established for the year and future years. Budget details also serve as a way for taxpayers to determine how the government performed in relation to past years.

5. Audits:

An audit reveals how well a government performs on its original budget goals, according to common professional standards. Governments are required to have audits conducted – it should follow that they make each audit report automatically available to the public.

6. Expenditures:

Online access to a checkbook register, or bill list, provides timely and pertinent information about government operations to the citizens and taxpayers. Proactive online disclosure of expenditure information deters waste, fraud and abuse, and increases the chances of rectifying problems once they occur

7. Compensation:

Salaries and benefits typically represent the largest expenses for most bodies of government. Government employees work for the citizens and taxpayers. Citizens have a right to know how much in compensation they are paying each of their employees, as well as knowing the number of employees each body of government has.

8. Contracts:

Contracts – and all bids made for public contracts – should be available for review so the public can evaluate the details. This is the literal definition of doing public business in an open manner. This includes contracts with a senior employee or a collective bargaining unit.

9. Lobbying:

If the unit of government engages in lobbying activities or pays association or membership dues to any lobbying associations, that information should be disclosed on the government agency’s website. This will allow the public to make sure what is being lobbied for is in the community’s best interest and the costs are reasonable.

10. Taxes:

Citizens should have ready access to tax and fee information. Not only is it important for citizens to know the costs of government; readily available information helps increase collection rates.

Want to encourage your McHenry County Board member to do more? Their contact information is below:

District 1

      Home: 847-516-2719

Home: 847-658-3434

District 2

      Home: 815-455-9550    Work: 815-341-2440   

District 3

      Home:  815-482-5693   

      Home: 815-477-8978     Work: 815-459-7090  

Home: 815-382-9940 (Cell)  Work: 815-459-5152

District 4

      Home: 815-675-6353    Cell: 815-354-9300

District 5

      Home: 847-669-3804   Work: 815-337-5550  

District 6

      Home: 815-648-4210   


McHenry County Fails Transparency Audit — 6 Comments

  1. No surprise here.

    They have so much to hide.

  2. Proud of Kane County where I live!

    That is a tribute to Karen and Chris for their leadership and examples they set for their committees and worker bees.

  3. Rhonda, that’s true.

    Both KMC and Lauzen figured it out that transparency is cheaper than payer staff to answer repeated foia requests over and over again. Open the books and let the sunlight in.

  4. Good reporting, Cal.

    Why did this not show up in the Northwest Herald?

    It seems to me to be a most prominent issue, especially when our County government prides itself on its transparency.

    Looks like we’d better have another look in that mirror.

    BTW, the number you posted for me is my cell, and I have it on me all the time.

  5. Wait until they see who REALLY is/ has been locking into the county and all its shenanigans!!

    One of these mornings the McHenry County Government Center is going to look like a Ford Car Dealership selling own Crown Royal Vics!

    Many of the above and those holding some public offices, will be given ‘new numbers’ as they say, “Cheese!”

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