McHenry County Board members sent two resolutions aimed at ensuring elected officials aren’t using county funds for political gain back to committee during Tuesday’s meeting.
The Finance and Audit Committee has been in the process of drafting the amendments to the county’s travel and business expense policy and will continue to discuss the items.
The first resolution only would be in effect near election season. It bars county officials and employees from using county money or resources to print or mail newsletters or brochures, order or distribute promotional items or issue a public service announcement or advertisement using their proper name, picture or likeness, according to county records.
This ban would be in effect beginning Jan. 1 of the year of a primary election and ending the day after the election, and Sept. 1 of the year of a general election and ending the day after the election.
“While an important public purpose is served by ensuring citizens know who their elected officials are, it may create the appearance of impropriety when an elected official purchases items with public funds that include his/her name or likeness immediately prior to an election,” part of the resolution reads. “Waste can occur if a current officeholder loses said election, and therefore makes said purchased, produced or distributed materials obsolete. ... It is necessary for citizens and taxpayers to maintain confidence in the use of their tax money for legitimate government duties.”
The second resolution deals with civic engagement purchases.
“Civic engagement expenses may be made and are reimbursable provided they are not used for political purposes or as a charitable contribution,” part of the resolution reads.
If an officeholder buys something with his or her name, picture or likeness on it with county funds, the resolution would require that official to file a notarized affidavit attesting that the purchase is being made for a public purpose and not for a political or charitable purpose, according to county documents.
It is not yet known when the board will have the item on its agenda next. The items were taken off the consent agenda and sent back to committee without discussion Tuesday.
Committee member and District 3 board representative Chris Christensen told the Northwest Herald he would like to see language tightened up in the resolutions.
“It is important,” he said. “It is one of those things where the board won’t let it die. I want a policy in place, but what the policy will look like two months from now, I don’t have a clue.”
Members of the Finance and Audit Committee are Chairman Mike Skala, Mary McCann, Yvonne Barnes, Jim Heisler, Christensen, Chuck Wheeler and Larry Smith.