Court: Seyller must cover shortfall with special funds

By on October 29, 2010

by Martha Quetsch
KANE COUNTY—Kane County Circuit Clerk Deborah Seyller’s attorney Dean Frieders said his client will seek guidance from the court about how to carry out a recent court order.

Kane County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Sullivan on Oct. 15 ruled that Seyller must use special Circuit Clerk’s funds to cover more than $500,000 in unbudgeted expenses she said are required to keep the office operating for the remainder of the year.

Seyller had petitioned the court to require the county to pay for the Circuit Clerk’s office budget overages from the county’s general fund. Frieders said the reason Seyller has not used the special funds to cover her budget overages is because of state restrictions on their use. Those special funds, from fees Seyller’s office charges to the public for certain services, include the document storage fund, the court automation fund and the administrative fund.

Seyller already has used the special funds to pay for one third of her personnel budget, Frieders said.

“She didn’t think it was permissible to allocate more,” Frieders said.

Sullivan said Seyller has not exhausted her office’s special funds and should use the substantial balances in those funds to satisfy the budget shortfall.

“The order of the court will be that the Circuit Clerk is enjoined … to transfer funds to charge a sufficient amount of at least $520,000 to (those) special funds … and to pay the compensation of (deputy clerks) from those funds,” Sullivan stated.

The County Board approved a Circuit Clerk annual budget of $4.5 million in November 2009, but since then Seyller hired additional personnel including deputy clerks whose wages, salaries and benefits were not included in that budget. The County Board on Sept. 14 denied Seyller’s office more than $500,000 from the general fund to cover the additional expenditures. On Sept. 15, Seyller filed a lawsuit against the county and the County Board seeking a court order for the supplemental budget appropriation.

In his Oct. 15 ruling, Sullivan noted that the County Board appropriated more than $1 million more for the Circuit Clerk’s 2009-10 budget than in fiscal year 2008-09.

“Nonetheless, after the adoption of this budget ordinance, the Circuit Clerk determined that she was unable to meet her required mandates for operation of that office … therefore hired additional staff,” Sullivan stated.

Sullivan said that under state statute, it is the County Board’s role to determine how much money is necessary to operate the Circuit Clerk’s office.

Sullivan concluded that Seyller’s hiring of the additional staff worsened the expenditure problems that the clerk’s office was facing during fiscal year 2010.