COMMENTARY: Municipal governments have become equally fiscally irresponsible as the state of Illinois

municipal fiscally irresponsible Illinois
(Eric Allie/Illinois Policy original cartoon. City of Nokomis edit by Jake Leonard/Heartland Newsfeed.)

(Heartland Newsfeed) — It is no secret that Chicago has a century-long track record of fiscal irresponsibility. That ultimately trickled down to Chicago Public Schools, which has shown a four-decade track record of reckless spending with no reforms being taken.

Our state government in Springfield is a contributing factor to municipal governments overspending or imposing fiscally irresponsible decisions, something that has occurred for over four decades. With a fiscally irresponsible billionaire socialist in the Governor’s Mansion and an equally irresponsible General Assembly dictating terms they have no right to impose, combined with yet another fiscal year of excessive spending and tax hikes.

One of those municipalities who are recklessly spending other people’s money is Nokomis. The mayor/commissioner government with a completely new slate of officials are continuing to push the status quo as the previous councils: no transparency, more reckless spending and no fiscal responsibility.

In the May 28 meeting of the Nokomis City Council, the council made a questionable decision to purchase a new street sweeper, contrary to what they discussed during the campaign, for $211,595. With interest and finance costs, taxpayers will be on the hook for nearly $500,000. Not a favorable decision for a city who’s in debt within the range of $6 million and $10 million and lies about having $2 million in reserves. They could have taken the more fiscally responsible route by contacting our neighboring cities in Hillsboro and Raymond in order to attain a intergovernmental agreement to rent their relatively new street sweepers when they needed them at a much lower cost.

This decision is also questionable because a purchase or lease of this size requires a bidding process. Depending on the purchase classification, any minor purchase over $2,500 or any major purchase over $25,000 requires a bidding process. That is per 65 ILCS 5 of the Illinois Municipal Code. This is something not only the state government enforces, but it is also enforceable by the Illinois Municipal League, in which nearly all municipalities are members of.

The May 28 decision is, in fact, in violation of 65 ILCS 5 and IML statutes, in any fashion — including with the proposed $30,000 that was in the budget from the prior fiscal year budget.

The council drew strike two on June 10 when they approved, without bids, the purchase of a new mower not to exceed $18,000 and did not open up to bids, as required by law. (Source: Nokomis Free Press-Progress; June 19, 2019). This qualifies as a minor purchase classification and since it’s over $2,500, it requires a bidding process.

The only redeeming quality was that one commissioner DID seek bids on one project: a security system to be installed around a mini golf course being built at one of the city’s parks.

This kind of reckless spending is what is going to lead the Nokomis City Council to continue making reckless financial decisions and then expect the taxpayers to clean up their mess.

I have involved the Edgar County Watchdogs in this process and I look forward to some transparency, honesty and most importantly, some valid, non-BS reasoning for the their reckless decisions.

Jake Leonard is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed and GM/program director of the Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network and Podcast Network. Leonard is also general manager of Heartland Internet Media Networks, an active contributor to four newspapers for Pana News Group and a contributing writer to My Sports Vote.

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