By CARL GREEN
Edwardsville, IL – Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler has racked up more than $3.6 million in losses to county taxpayers because of poor decision-making, including firing an employee with a life-threatening illness.
And yet Prenzler wants voters to promote him to County Board Chairman.
Prenzler, a Republican elected four years ago, is now challenging County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan, a friend of working families, in the November election.
The latest fiasco came in July when a federal judge issued an order increasing the verdict in the firing case to $530,090 from the original $450,000 to account for lost wages and legal costs.
Legal fees the county must pay to defend Prenzler in the case add another $332,245 to the taxpayers tab.
Fees from six other cases filed against Prenzler have now raised the total cost to taxpayer of his legal bills to $1,219,784.
Prenzler eliminated the job of Comptroller Linda Dunnagan after she would not agree to cutting her pay in half and giving up her health insurance in the face of mounting medical bills. She filed suit for discrimination in December, 2014.
And Dunnagan’s lawyer had offered to settle the whole thing for just $60,000. What happened to that? Prenzler declined the offer.
Dunstan said Prenzler should apologize to taxpayers for his rash decision and its phenomenal costs.
“There is no excuse for discriminating against any employee, much less a disabled employee,” Dunstan said. “Mr. Prenzler owes this woman and Madison County taxpayers an apology for his discriminatory actions against a disabled employee.
“A jury has found him guilty of violating this woman’s rights, and the taxpayers are going to have to pay the price for his bad judgment.”
According to county financial documents, Prenzler also lost $481,997 in refunds for tax sale errors in 2012 and another $1,969,291 in investment proceeds from selling off a two-year, $40 billion government bond investment prior to maturity in 2011.
Prenzler claimed the investment, made before he took office, was too risky, but his reinvestments were at a far lower interest rate.
In the Dunnagan case the judge also issued an injunction to prohibit Prenzler from further violating employees’ disability rights. The order notes that a jury found he had discriminated against Dunnagan, who was ill in 2012 but was able to return to work.
“Prenzler trampled on the rights of this woman,” Dunstan noted. “This is consistent with his reckless past conduct as treasurer, including his mismanagement of millions in county investments, large raises to political appointees, and getting involved in politically motivated lawsuits.
“Who is Prenzler willing to run over in the future? The federal judge made sure he won’t do this again or will face the consequences of the court.”
A GOOD RECORD
The County Board Chairman is elected by the full county and serves as chief executive officer of the county government, appointing department heads and coordinating department operations. The chairman also appoints county board committees.
Dunstan, of Troy, IL, has been on the County Board since 1980 and its chairman since 2002. Under his leadership, the county has maintained a balanced budget, frequently cut spending, reduced overall employment and held the tax rate in check.