County Board chairman's wages may be garnished

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-1124903101864.jpg’, ”, ‘Scott Christiansen’);

Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen’s personal money woes grew August 7 after a creditor filed a wage deduction summons that may result in garnishment of up to 15 percent of his earnings from the County.

Christiansen and his construction company, S. H. Christiansen Construction/Christiansen, Inc., owe Milwaukee Insulation Company, Inc., a total $236,727 for construction materials, court filing fees and attorney fees, in connection with a 2004 lawsuit.

Christiansen’s annual salary from the County is $72,000, which means Milwaukee Insulation may have to wait years to be completely paid.

Christiansen’s personal and business money troubles have been the subject of two previous articles in The Rock River Times since October 2004. His money problems have some County Board members privately wondering how Christiansen can effectively lead and manage taxpayers’ and citizens’ business when his personal life is in such turmoil.

The latest developments concerns $164,738 judgment against Christiansen and his wife, and an additional $71,937 against the construction/roofing company. The remainder of the $236,727 relates to court filing fees and attorney fees that Milwaukee Insulation won in a July 7 judgment in Winnebago County.

In response to the sour local economy, Christiansen acknowledged last October he started a new roofing business in Alabama. He also said his Alabama business was operating in Florida to assist last year’s hurricane victims in securing their homes from further damage.

Asked how he could afford to start new businesses when local creditors were not being compensated, Christiansen asserted they were being paid.

As described in the Oct. 20-26, 2004, article “County Board chairman says no conflict of interest,” Christiansen and his businesses were the target of several other lawsuits by creditors within the last five years, including the Rockford Register Star. The article also described Christiansen’s ownership of property in Roscoe in an area that was slated for significant road improvements for which Christiansen heavily lobbied for the bond sale that made construction possible.

Christiansen’s lobbying campaign concerned the $80 million “Build Winnebago” program that involved constructing primarily road and sewer projects that Winnebago County Board member Pete MacKay (R-5) described as a “campaign contribution scam.” Other County Board members countered the spending would pave the way to economic development.

Christiansen argued the decision to reconstruct Willow Brook Road was made prior to his appointment as County Board chairman in May 2004. Christiansen owned property and a business at 12542 Willow Brook Rd., along with former Rockford Township Highway Commissioner Ronald F. Swanson Jr. The property was placed in to a blind trust in 2003.

As detailed in the July 13-19, 2005, article “Christiansen fund-raiser attracts supporters,” in May, J.P. Morgan Chase Bank began foreclosure procedures on a mortgage concerning properties on which Christiansen’s roofing company conducted business at 820 7th St., Rockford. And in June, Christiansen’s wife, Kathryn, deeded their 50-acre Yale Bridge Road property back to AMCORE Bank to avoid foreclosure proceedings.

Christiansen said three, poor economic years account for his company’s financial troubles. However, he said his company is now doing “very well,” and he looks forward to many more years of Christiansen serving residents in the area.

On Aug. 23, he repeated his statement from last October that creditors are being paid.

In the case of Milwaukee Insulation, Christiansen speculated they were not being paid as quickly as they would have liked, and the company filed the garnishment summons. Christiansen added that he didn’t think Milwaukee Insulation’s possible garnishment of his wages was a newsworthy story.

“Obviously it’s not as quick as they’d like. We talked to them as recently as yesterday [Aug. 22]. They’re willing to sit down and work the thing out,” Christiansen said.

As to deeding his Yale Bridge Road property back to the bank, Christiansen attributed that transaction to a potential buyer pulling out of a deal. However, he had no explanation about why J.P. Morgan Chase Bank began foreclosure proceedings on his business’s 7th Street address.

“That property on 7th Street; that was refinanced before your story broke [July 13]. I have no idea why they foreclosed on that,” he said.

Since at least 1988, Christiansen emphasized his business has employed more than 120 people.

From the Aug. 24-31, 2005, issue

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