EDWARDSVILLE — In an attempt to deflect negative attention following a $450,000 verdict against him by a jury in federal court for violating federal disability laws by discriminating against a female employee in the Treasurer’s Office, Kurt Prenzler is attempting to create an issue related to the purchasing policies of the Madison County Board.
“Madison County has a proven track record of competitive bidding, open government and award-winning transparency,” Madison County Chairman Alan J. Dunstan said. “This is a rather feeble effort by Mr. Prenzler to create an issue where none exists in order to divert the attention of the media and the people of our county from his mismanagement of the Treasurer’s Office and, specifically, his discrimination of a former female employee.
“Mr. Prenzler should understand that the competitive bid process eliminates the chance for unethical behavior. Obviously, his unfounded charges against the Madison County Board’s strict purchasing polices are part of his carefully planned strategy to cover his poor decisions, the mismanagement of his office and his illegal, discriminatory actions,” Dunstan stated.
Madison County government strictly adheres to the competitive purchasing procedures, established as part of the county purchasing ordinance that requires competitive bidding and purchasing. The Madison County Board has oversight for all county purchases and approves the payment of all invoices on a monthly basis.
The County Board chairman serves no role in the purchasing process, does not have the authority to approve purchases and plays no role in the authorization or approval of purchases by the County Board.
Madison County’s purchasing ordinance, which is in accordance with state law, requires competitive purchasing:
- Any purchase in excess of $30,000 is required to have sealed competitive bids and is approved by the full Madison County Board;
- Purchases between $5,000 and $30,000 are required to receive competitive written bids and approval by the County Board Finance Committee and the County Board Oversight Committee;
- Purchases between $500 and $5,000 are required to have competitive written or oral documented quotations and approved by the Purchasing Department and Department Head;
- The awarding of bids to the lowest responsible bidder; and
- Purchases of $500 or less may be made at the discretion of the Purchasing Department and the Department Head and also listed on the purchase order report which is approved by the County Board Finance Committee and Oversight Committee.
As County Board chairman, Dunstan instituted a transparency website where purchases and bid notices are listed on the county website. The site also has the county’s “Check Book on Line,” which clearly includes all expenditures. The county’s transparency and open government efforts have been rated ‘A+’ by government watchdog groups.
To ensure an even higher level of transparency, last week at the meeting of the Finance Committee, Dunstan announced he will be appointing six members of the County Board, Democrats and Republicans, to a special committee to review the county’s purchasing processes and to enhance its ability to promote open and competitive bidding.
Dunstan said Prenzler should address purchasing issues in the Treasurer’s Office rather than making “trumped-up charges against the County Board. Interestingly, the Finance Committee has been critical of Mr. Prenzler’s purchasing policies as treasurer.”
In November, the Finance Committee approved the awarding of a bid for the printing of delinquency tax notices to the low bidder from Caseyville, Ill. Prenzler ignored the committee’s approval and sent the work to the second low bidder, a firm in Iowa. And there have been other instances of no-bid purchases by Prenzler.
“Apparently, Mr. Prenzler believes he is above the very laws the County Board carefully follows,” Dunstan said.