Thursday, March 20, 2008
sponsored by Maple Ridge

Treasurer's Office Addresses Citizens and County Board

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[March 20, 2008]  In an action to make conditions of the delayed 2005 audit known to Logan County citizens, staff members of the Logan County treasurer's office went public at Thursday evening's Logan County Board meeting.

Emma Knauer, Mary Aeilts and Joyce Weston represented the office. Treasurer Mary Ellen Bruns was unable to be in attendance due to a broken ankle, but they said approved of the planned presentation.

Knauer spoke for the group. They had a document that chronicled difficulties encountered with the software that the county was using for three years. She said that during all that time they were unable to express their thoughts because of the business relationships that were involved. Continued negative articles in the media led them to speak now.

She said she would read their account of what happened and if anyone had questions, "come into the treasurer's office; we would be happy to talk to you. Talk to us there, and also talk to Mary Ellen; she's our boss." We have documents of everything for you to see, she said.


When she was through speaking, board member Pat O'Neill had a few things to say. O'Neill wished to clarify that he had not ever suggested that there should be a criminal investigation. "If you want to know something, I come out and say exactly what I feel. I resent people putting words in my mouth. I did not -- anyone tell me I'm wrong -- ask for a criminal investigation."

"I do believe the state's attorney and general attorney need to be involved. I cannot see wasting $500,000," he said.

[to top of second column]

He said the county has liability insurance, and the businesses involved would also. He consulted an independent firm from Taylorville about the software, and their response was, "There is only one word to describe it, it's horrible." Either the software was horrible or the instruction given to the people was horrible, O'Neill believes.

The attorney general investigates disputes and would be able to rule if we could recoup some of this money, he said.

Dick Logan, county board chairman, thanked the ladies for all their hard work and supported their comments about how hard the treasurer worked on this matter. As an example, he said that she was the only one who answered the phone in the courthouse the day of the big snowstorm; she'd been there since 7 that morning.

The board applauded.


Past related information:

(Text below from document received from the staff of Mary E. Bruns, Logan County treasurer)

Enough is enough!!!

Don't believe all you read in The Courier.

May we respond to the article appearing in The Courier March 12, 2008.


"The county -- not technically savvy"

"The treasurer's office didn't understand accounting"

"Raised multiple, multiple, multiple times to the finance committee"

Then quoting again from The Courier editorial March 15, 2008:

"Pat O'Neill, if we understand him correctly, is calling for a criminal investigation of the county's expenditure of $500,000 for an accounting software package that county officials couldn't get to work for their particular needs."

Until now, Mary Bruns and county staff felt that they could not respond to all the nasty charges made because of the retribution from Great Plains/Tectura, Integrity and Crowe Chizek auditing firm.

The citizens of Logan County need to know the problems the treasurer's office encountered from December 2004 to December 2007.

First, let me give a little background history of our office:

  1. Mary Bruns started working in the treasurer's office May 1976.

  2. Mary Bruns was elected treasurer Dec. 1, 1994.

  3. The tax system was computerized with Manatron Inc., but in November 1993 the financial system was also computerized.

  4. July 1995, the payroll was moved from the county clerk's office to the treasurer's office.

  5. In 1999, Manatron updated our system to be compliant with the demands of the year 2000. They installed Syncmaster 710 color monitors.

    Mobile home info was obtained from the county clerk's office and computerized by Manatron to be managed by our office.

From 1976 through 2004, all audits in the treasurer's office were filed without a problem.

The contract with Manatron Inc. ended on Nov. 30, 2004. After recommendations from Integrity (Pat Doolin), a decision was made to go with Great Plains/Tectura financials, Integrity payroll.

Devnet Inc. was contracted to do the tax system and mobile home conversion.

So you can see what a massive undertaking it was to change every job we have to do in the treasurer's office.

By the way, a lot of people do not know all the jobs we do!!!

  1. Print and mail approximately 18,000 tax bills.

  2. Collect and distribute all the tax money collected.

  3. Prepare paperwork and officiate the tax sale each October.

  4. Print tax sale certificates -- all this process takes from May to November.

  5. Keep deposit records of all tax dollars and receipt money coming in.

  6. Process payroll for 185 employees -- semi-monthly.

  7. File quarterly reports, send IMRF reports, process W-2s -- end of the year.

  8. Reconcile approximately 40 bank statements each month.

  9. General fund -- tie out approximately 30 funds/receipts and disbursements/balance.

  10. Make investments for tax dollars and also for highway funds.

  11. Print, mail approximately 500 mobile homes bills -- collect and deposit money.

  12. Mail reimbursement salary forms each month -- assessor, probation, public defender.

  13. Work with auditors several months each year and provide reports as needed -- anything they need, we must provide.

  14. Provide monthly reports for the county board and other offices.

  15. Collect estate tax money and distribute to the state of Illinois.

  16. Deposit receipts, pay bills and reconcile bank statement for 911.

  17. Reconcile six highway fund accounts and mail report each month.

  18. Annually enter drainage amounts on the tax bill for 18 drainage districts.

  19. For counties our size, we were the first to offer direct deposit of tax payments and credit card payments -- E-Pay through Illinois Funds.

So you can see what a huge responsibility it was to do our job on the old system and then turn around and implement the same on the new system.

[to top of second column in this section]

Quoting from Mary Bruns' article sent to the editor:

"Fund balance: The system did not produce the fund balance information in an acceptable form for Crowe Chizek."

"Due to/due from: Most of the time this worked fine, but there were some entries that were never cleared out. Tectura had entered the 2004 accounts manually into the systems. Apparently, the system would not recognize manual entries, and so they remained. We explained this to Crowe Chizek, but they felt they could be corrected by the software people. The other problem in this area is that this software insists on using one cash account. We and most counties have multiple bank accounts. Because entries were made into the cash account that were not part of the actual bank account, these amounts would never be cleared out of the due to/due from and were accumulated. We asked Tectura to set up additional banks, but this never happened. I had attempted to; however, I was unable to finish. I asked for help, but nothing was ever done. Had it been done, a lot of this issue could have been resolved."

Quoting from an e-mail -- Lynn Drea, Tectura:

"The fiscal year 2005 was closed with funds out of balance, and the funds are out of balance due to general ledger posting on machines that did not have Interfund."

"2006 -- Once all the funds are cleaned up for 2004-2006, Interfund needs to be loaded on M. Aeilts' machine."

"We also need to review with Duane at CCA or anyone else that may install hardware/Dynamics GP software about the importance of having Interfund installed on all workstations."

So from the above quotes, problems existed and were ongoing due to technical problems we did not create.

Now moving on to the payroll problems:

  1. Two employees worked with the payroll conversion, and it was installed by Integrity, who was under contract by Tectura.

  2. December 2004 payroll was processed the 15th and 30th on the Manatron system. Then we had to re-create the December 2004 payroll on the new system so it would be in the computer system.

  3. We went live with payroll on Jan. 15, 2005. An employee from Integrity worked with us from January-May 2005. Many glitches occurred and were resolved -- all problems are documented in our payroll records.

  4. The big problems were:

    A. We were told during the preliminary training that Great Plains could produce any report we needed. The GP team went through our books and records to determine what we needed. Cost -- $25,000.

    B. When the payroll department asked for a quarterly report of employee wages and deductions, we were told how expensive it would be to produce. In September 2005, we finally had a quarterly report.

    C. Our retirement plan, IMRF, is filed monthly, electronically. It took three months to get the report finalized.

    D. Stipends are paid by the state of Illinois to elected officials. We were told by Tectura that Illinois is the only state that does stipends. They had to create a program to enter stipends in the payroll records, and then it was not compatible with the quarterly report. Manatron had a simple method and was compatible with the quarterly reports.

    E. Direct deposit problems when Regions updated their systems.

    F. Problem with accounts payable checks for deductions interacting with the county clerk's accounts payable check writing. There are e-mails to Tectura to support this.

  5. Human resource side of payroll was not explained well until later in 2005.

  6. We are required to file a SUTA quarterly report electronically, and when it was time to file April 2005, we were told software from Greenshades would have to be purchased for $1,700 and a yearly update would cost approximately $400.

We could go on and on, but the point has been made -- problems existed beyond our control.

It would be impossible to estimate how many working hours were wasted due to telephone calls, conference calls, e-mails back and forth -- one call about stipend corrections lasted 3 1/2 hours.

We would like to welcome the citizens of Logan County to visit our office. If you have any questions, we have copies on file showing the cost of all the software and documents to prove our side of the story.

Mary A., Joyce W. and Emma K. congratulate our boss, Mary Bruns, for a job well done.

Point of interest: LaSalle County/Ottawa contracted with Great Plains January 2006. They have completed the vendor list but are still working on a chart of accounts, and the conversion has not started as of March 17, 2008.

[Text from document received from the staff of Mary E. Bruns, Logan County treasurer]

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