PEKIN — Tazewell County officials will likely decide next month whether to ask voters if the auditor's office should become appointed rather than elected.
Members of a County Board committee on Wednesday discussed the format of such a proposal.
"The whole point of having an appointed auditor is so they can have certain credentials," ad hoc auditor review committee member Sue Sundell said.
Those could include being a certified public accountant or being trained in government-specific accounting.
Committee member Mike Godar said the "independency and making it an apolitical position" were key to him.
Incumbent Auditor Shelly Hranka said such a move would, in fact, hamper her independence.
Under the structure being mulled, an appointed auditor would report to a committee potentially made up of board members, legal representatives and, perhaps, even community members. The committee will seek legal advice from State's Attorney Stewart Umholtz to see what membership would be permitted.
Godar and Sundell said their goal would be to see a panel that is as independent as possible.
"That auditor would still be under the control of the County Board," Hranka said after the meeting. "...They would still control what the auditor does, and that auditor would not be independent."
She said it's important to preserve a structure in which the auditor is directly elected by the voters.
"I work for the citizens of Tazewell County," she said. "I'm here to protect their tax dollars and make sure we're all being ethical and I know where the money is being spent."
The committee is expected to finalize its recommendation in late May or early June, and it could be debated by the board's executive committee on June 20. If it's supported there, the full board could decide June 27 whether to put the question on the ballot for the Nov. 6 election.
A proposal similar in its broad strokes came before Peoria County voters in the March primary election, and it was rejected by 19 votes.
Chris Kaergard covers politics and government. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 686-3255. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard.