URBANA — The authority to appoint the next Champaign County treasurer will fall to County Board Chairman Giraldo Rosales.
After current Treasurer Laurel Prussing resigned, County Executive Darlene Kloeppel said she was looking into wheter she — rather than the county board chairman — should be the one to appoint Prussing’s successor in a county with an elected county executive.
Rosales said there was no question the appointment should be made by the county board chairman, and the issue was settled at a meeting Tuesday morning that included him, Kloeppel, both party caucus chairmen and State’s Attorney Julia Rietz.
“I think she’s clear now,” he said of Kloeppel.
Kloeppel couldn’t be reached Tuesday, but confirmed in a text message that a decision had been made and Rosales will make the appointment.
Prussing’s resignation is effective Jan. 31, and Rosales said he’ll officially announce the upcoming vacancy at a county board committee-of-the-whole meeting Jan. 14.
He’ll be looking for assistance from both parties and others to come up with a list of treasurer candidates, and will be accepting resumes and cover letters from applicants after Jan. 14, he said.
The selected candidate will need to be confirmed by the county board, and the rest of the treasurer’s unexpired four-year term will be up for election in November.
Prussing is leaving in a wake of issues that have developed in her first year in office — among them months worth of county bank accounts that have gone unreconciled — but Rosales said he doesn’t believe it will be difficult to find a replacement.
“Anybody walking into that, it’s a little scary,” he said. “But anybody who is professional and competent should have no difficulties figuring it out.”
Kloeppel had hired an outside auditor to help the treasurer’s office catch up on county bank accounts, but county board Finance Chairman Jim Goss said the outside auditor was only able to get through two months worth of the backlog — December 2018 and January 2019 — before the money ran out.
Rosales said he hasn’t seen the outside auditor’s report, but will be seeking that from Kloeppel.
“The audit has not been shared with us,” he said. “We most likely will ask for that today.”
Meanwhile, former Champaign school board member John Bambenek has called on county officials to a conduct a forensic audit of the treasurer’s office.
That’s a deep and evidentiary audit done by an independent outside professional when there’s been a loss of control, and such an audit would follow the money and make sure it has been properly accounted for, he said.
“Laurel Prussing’s resignation does not put an end to the dysfunction in county finances,” he said Tuesday. “Hundreds of millions of dollars have been mismanaged and a forensic audit is necessary to find out where all the money went, why it went there and to recover whatever is now missing.”
Rosales said he has always supported transparency in government, and believes in whatever it takes to make sure that transparency is being provided.
“My hope is that our county government will cooperate in this assurance,” he said.