EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County’s treasurer and County Board chairman were at odds Friday over a draft report analyzing the county’s investment practices.
Treasurer Kurt Prenzler and County Board Chairman Alan J. Dunstan released the following statements on the report:
Prenzler: $28,500 investment report “made-to-order”
Treasurer Kurt Prenzler said he got his first look at a $28,500 “made-to-order” report Madison County officials commissioned to analyze his office’s investments and it’s filled with inaccuracies.
“It is my understanding that this is the third draft of the report, which had been purposely kept from me,” Prenzler said.
Prenzler, along with several County Board members, got their first look at the draft on Tuesday presented by PFM Financial Advisors of Philadelphia, Pa. Jeffrey Schroeder, a managing director for the company specializing in asset management, was the presenter.
Last summer prior to the November election, the Finance and Government Operations Committee voted to solicit proposals seeking “advice” from investment firms. Within days following Prenzler’s re-election, the committee hired PFM.
Prenzler said the report included findings and conclusions about the county’s investments that are both untrue and misleading. The reason for these inaccuracies, he said was Schroeder admitted County Administrator Joe Parente told him he was not allowed to contact the Treasurer’s Office for information before issuing the draft report.
“It’s shameful,” Prenzler said. “How can you call this an ‘independent’ analysis if the office being looked at wasn’t asked any questions or provided any information?”
All the information contained in the report was provided to PFM by Parente. PFM published its first draft in March and a second one in June.
“I call foul on the use of public funds to attack me after I cleaned up the Treasurer’s Office and the investment mess left by Frank Miles,” Prenzler said.
Earlier this year the Arkansas brokerage firm used to purchase long-term (12- to 15-year) bonds outside the county’s investment policy agreed to pay $340,000 to settle a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration claim over excessive commissions.
“Chairman (Alan) Dunstan may be OK with investing in long-term bonds,” Prenzler said. “I’m not.”
He said the county spent $28,500 on what he feels is a political attack.
“I found out two weeks ago there was a draft and when I asked for a copy I was told unless I attended this meeting I couldn’t see it,” he said.
He said the report is a creation of certain county officials and was “made-to-order.”
“Since I’ve been treasurer, I’ve tripled the amount in local banks from $30 to $90 million,” he said. “Our returns are among the top Illinois counties. Ask any banker and they will tell you that local deposits means local jobs.”
Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan’s response
Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan criticized Treasurer Kurt Prenzler for issuing a press release attacking an independent investment analysis before it is even completed and presented to the Finance Committee in a public meeting.
Dunstan said rather than working together with the County Board on county investment policy moving forward, he has chosen to attack the messenger, the independent investment advisor.
The intent was to bring on a professional independent investment advisory firm, with experience working with public entities. A reputable firm was retained by Madison County. PFM Asset Management of Chicago is one of the leading public investment advisers in Illinois. The scope of the report was to recommend best management practices for public investments and to review the current investment program by the treasurer.
Prenzler refused to cooperate with the Finance Committee from the beginning. He was asked to be part of the selection team that interviewed independent investment advisers as part of the bidding process and refused to. He again refused to cooperate after the firm was retained. He even hired a different firm for $4,800, refusing to work with the firm the Finance Committee hired.
Recently, Dunstan asked three Republican County Board members, Bill Meyer, Jamie Goggin and Tom McRae, to try to intervene to get the treasurer to meet with the consultant and cooperate in a bi-partisan manner. The intent was to move forward with cooperation between the County Board and the treasurer.
Dunstan purposely excluded himself, County Administrator Joe Parente and Democratic County Board members from the meeting to try to encourage Prenzler to participate and cooperate. Reports from the meeting were that it was an open and cordial meeting and Prenzler engaged the consultants about best management practices for public investments.
Prenzler also was informed at the meeting he would be provided a draft report prior to it being presented in a public meeting with an opportunity in advance to provide comments and to correct any factually incorrect information. Now, he has apparently decided some parts of the report were not favorable and is attacking the independent consultants and trying to discredit their work. This is consistent with past behavior, where he tries to deflect and blame others.
Dunstan said this is extremely disappointing. All three board members had told him it was a productive meeting. He had hoped Prenzler would work with the County Board on this matter and do it in an open and transparent way. Instead of cooperating and learning from the report, he has chosen otherwise.
“The independent report was needed to review past practices and to make recommendations on sound investment policies in the future,” Dunstan said. “It will be presented publicly. It will be published and made available for the public to decide on its own. It is part of being transparent in government. It is also part of the process to affect change.”