EDWARDSVILLE – County officials recently squared off over an expenditure that one calls “a total waste of taxpayer money.”
Madison County Chairman Alan Dunstan issued a press release in mid-March criticizing Treasurer Kurt Prenzler for persisting with his plans to pay $9,600 to redesign his county website.
Prenzler submitted an invoice for the website development at the county’s Finance Committee meeting on March 12, where County Board members questioned why the changes were needed, citing the county’s contract to build its own new website with Revize, a Michigan company. The contract was signed in January.
The treasurer said he had no idea the county was considering a new website until he submitted his invoice.
“The law allows me the authority for the internal operations of the office,” Prenzler said. “In fact, no one has ever suggested I waste money.”
Dunstan said the county signed an agreement in December authorizing the use of $14,000 to have the county website redesigned for all county officials and departments. County officials expect the project to be complete within two months.
“If Mr. Prenzler proceeds with this project, we could have a Madison County website where every office and department – with the exception of the Treasurer’s Office – is linked and more efficient,” Dunstan said. “The IT department would be responsible for maintaining all county sites except the treasurer’s. It would be a waste of taxpayer dollars for the treasurer to have this done outside the county IT department.”
Prenzler said because his office is set to collect $400 million in taxes this year, he is trying to change his website to a higher security ranking of PCI compliance.
“I want the public to know that the online portal where people make their tax payments is hosted by a third-party vendor, Forte, and it is secure and PCI-compliant,” Prenzler said. “Forte has a PCI Level 1 security rating and that’s the highest standard you can get.”
He said the county’s servers are not PCI-compliant.
According to Prenzler, PCI compliance, or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, is a set of requirements designed to ensure that companies process, store and transmit credit card information and maintain a secure environment.
“I’m not going to pinch pennies on Internet security,” Prenzler said, adding the expenditure is “within budget.”
Dunstan said employees from the county’s IT department said the firm Prenzler is hiring is for website design only, not Internet security.
“Mr. Prenzler is trying to use Internet security as a way to rationalize the reason for a new website for the Treasurer’s Office,” Dunstan said. “However, after the proposal was reviewed, it was discovered the work is for a custom web design and does not even address security issues.”
County board members at the health committee meeting were worried that they would be paying twice for the same issue – one for the county and one for a branch of the county.
The request was denied due to a lack of a motion from the committee. But Prenzler has the authority to spend the money as long as it comes out of the treasurer’s $700,000 budget.
Prenzler said the circuit clerk’s and state’s attorney’s websites are both on third-party servers.
He said he thinks the motive behind the opposition to his request is “political.”