Editorial: ‘What we’ve got here is … failure to communicate’

By on October 7, 2010

With virtually every business, family and government entity struggling to find the money to pay for their necessities, the dispute between the Kane County Board and the Circuit Clerk’s Office that has now spilled into the court system has become a ridiculous endeavor that will simply spend more money that is not available.

The Circuit Clerk, Deborah Seyller, requested an additional $550,000 for her office to fulfill what she says are her state-mandated duties.

The County Board denied the request in mid-September, saying that it is unclear what state-mandated responsibilities are at risk if the budget amendment is not approved.

Rather than attempt to resolve the dispute with discussion, negotiation and cooperation, the situation ended up in the court system when Seyller filed a lawsuit against the County Board on Sept. 15, and the county responded with a counterclaim on Sept. 28.

Who is at fault for the breakdown in communication? Which side is the one that refused to negotiate in good faith and push the situation into the court system, adding significant, unnecessary expenses to a situation that, at its essence, is an argument over not having enough money and what to do with the money that is available?

It appears that each side blames the other, and in a dispute that turned from a budget battle into a court case, it is likely that both sides share responsibility for this situation getting out of hand.

When it is an issue of budgeted funds allocated to fulfill duties required by the state, it is understandable how a disagreement over the funding level could occur, given the current downturn in the economy and the ensuing drop in revenue at the county level.

What is not understandable is how a disagreement over funding levels, based on the fact that there is not adequate funding available, could spill over into the court system, thereby draining even more funds from the county coffers and pulling all involved parties away from the core, state-mandated duties that they must fill.

At a time when the public is fed up—fed up with a faltering economy, fed up with the way government operates, fed up with perceived waste of taxpayer money—this dispute is a virtual slap in the face to anyone who pays taxes to Kane County.

All parties involved should lock themselves in a room and not come out until an agreement is reached that doesn’t require the involvement of the courts.

Anything less than that demonstrates their disdain for county taxpayers and their willingness to spend money that no one has to take their arguments before a judge, simply because one or both sides of the dispute do not have the ability to resolve their disagreements on their own.

Where is Paul Newman when you need him?