Logli: FCU needs money

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-116361710716507.jpg’, ‘Photo by Stuart R. Wahlin’, ‘Winnebago County State's Attorney Paul Logli asks the board to spare the FCU and give it a raise.’);

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Paul Logli bargained with the county board Nov. 9 to resume funding to the Financial Compliance Unit (FCU). Because Logli was also asking for the addition of another full-time position, the state’s attorney laid out plans to improve the effectiveness of the unit.

In a Sept. 28 meeting, the Winnebago County Board voted nearly unanimously to fund the FCU for only six months, pledging to re-evaluate the program and explore outsourcing the collection of fines and fees. Tim Simms (R-14) was the only board member in favor of funding the FCU for a full year without a closer look.

Because many board members questioned the self-sufficiency of the unit during its first five years, the state’s attorney distributed a report from an October meeting regarding the FCU. Logli presented a much brighter view than the county’s general fund document, which he believes to be misleading. His report states the FCU brings millions of dollars into the system and has recovered its operating costs by several times over.

“I just want to set aside this recurring thought that we’re not paying for itself,” Logli argued, “When in fact, we do pay for itself every year.”

The Oct. 26 meeting was attended by Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen, board members, judges, representatives from municipalities, the Circuit Clerk’s Office, Sheriff’s Department and the State’s Attorney’s Office.

Logli admitted the FCU could be doing better and proposed establishing a working group to plan improvements to the program.

Mary Ann Aiello (R-9), who pushed to cut funding in September, was pleased Logli conceded the need for a more effective FCU.

“It’s unfortunate it took five years to do this,” Aiello said. “He should have realized that there was a problem before, but I’m glad he’s finally willing to address them.”

Logli said of about 80,000 cases last year, the FCU had only been assigned 17,000.

“Some of these cases are never getting to the clerk’s office or the FCU because they’re in various suspenses,” the state’s attorney explained. “45-day letters, 30-day letters, non-appearances and bench warrants.”

Logli reported municipalities want to see the FCU continue and agree with his assertion the entire justice system needs improved technology. He added increased functions of the FCU will require the addition of another full-time position to the current staff of eight. Logli’s plan promises a higher rate of compliance.

The board has until the end of the year to hand over the other half of the FCU’s $474,066 proposed 2007 budget. If not, on or by Jan. 1, Logli will notify municipalities the unit will cease operations March 31, 2007.

With the formation of the working group, Aiello seemed more content with releasing the remaining budget funds. She said the board should be able to decide in the next month whether Logli’s suggestions can be implemented right away.

“Hopefully, now maybe this will correct the problem,” Aiello concluded, “and we’ll start seeing some additional money coming in.”

From the Nov. 15-21, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!