EDWARDSVILLE — County Board members Wednesday responded to Treasurer Kurt Prenzler's criticism of the county's purchasing policy, with one calling Prenzler's words "slanderous lies."
Madison County Board member Jamie Goggin, a Republican, addressed a release sent out Friday by Prenzler in which he said the amendment to the purchasing policy approved at Wednesday's meeting was "too little, too late." Prenzler, the Republican candidate for county board chairman in November's election, also criticized the way in which the process was handled, saying the meetings of the five-person group were a violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act and "unethical."
Goggin, who along with Republicans Tom McRae and Brad Maxwell, independent Robert Pollard and Democrat Kelly Tracy formed the advisory group, took issue with Prenzler's characterization.
"I'm proud of the work we accomplished," Goggin said. "This additional transparency is something anyone would be proud of and will lead to more bids for county projects.
"So you can imagine my surprise when I read the press release last Friday taking credit for the hard work we did, while at the same time accusing us of breaking the law. These statements from Kurt Prenzler are slanderous lies. Our work started months before he claims to have started the process. Also, our informal working group meeting to advise the administrator was in full compliance with Illinois Open Meetings Act. Again, I thank everyone who helped with this project. This kind of teamwork is exactly why we're all here."
Goggin's statement was met with applause from his fellow county board members.
In his release, Prenzler said the additional transparency achieved Wednesday -- including a website where bids and RFPs for county projects are available for viewing by the public -- was the result of his questions of the county's purchasing process earlier this year. On the contrary, Goggin said the working group was formed last year after he and the other members had ideas to improve the process.
"In October, some other board members and I had ideas to improve the purchasing process in the county," Goggin said. "We approached the chairman, and we decided to form a working group to recommend changes to the existing ordinance. We met informally four times to make suggestions to (County Administrator) Joe Parente. The results were this ordinance change and the change to the county website to display bids and RFPs."
Tracy, the only Democrat of the group, said Prenzler's comments only served to detract from the good accomplished by the group.
"This is actually a really great move for Madison County," Tracy said. "So, of course Mr. Prenzler felt he had to take the negative route and try to take the wind out of their sails. What is really the truth is that Jamie (Goggin), Tom McRae, Brad Maxwell and Robert Pollard, we all worked so well together and were able to accomplish so much that I hope that speaks higher, in more volume, than Mr. Prenzler's negative comments."
Board member Lisa Ciampoli, a Republican, was among those who thanked the group for their work but said she would like to see the county go further with its transparency efforts. She said she would like to see the threshold that requires that projects to go out to bid be lowered from the current $30,000 to $10,000 or $20,000.
"Just to give a little more transparency in the county," Ciampoli said.