Kim and McGuire go head-to-head in Lake County treasurer’s campaign – Chicago Tribune

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Four years after becoming Lake County Treasurer in a blue wave election in 2018, Democrat Holly Kim of Mundelein is facing a challenge from Republican Paula McGuire of Green Oaks.

Kim is touting nearly $10 million in earned investment income in 2020, up from $2 million four years ago, launching online billing to reduce printing and postage costs, and launching a 24-hour support system. of the day among his achievements.

He also said he has raised the profile of the office from a time when “no one really knew anything about the treasurer’s office,” despite a series of challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

McGuire, a longtime accountant for PwC, maintains that things are not going so well and that she can usher in changes to better serve Lake County residents.

“I think there’s a fine line between being a public relations office and having some sort of fiduciary professionalism,” McGuire said. “I think the main focus would be to make sure that the assets of the community are properly protected, and then make sure that people in the community actually have access to whatever information they’re looking for and maybe report, obviously on a quarterly basis, what What is going on in that office?

Kim took the job with a vision of playing a larger role than being an office that “just collects the money” from property tax payments and manages a portfolio worth a few hundred million dollars in county assets. .

“It’s true, this office just collects the money,” Kim said. “But honestly, with the way we invested and returned the money, it all helped the county keep their tax steady for three years in a row because we got all these extra millions of dollars. So I guess there are ways we can help.”

Kim said the increase in investment income was due in part to investments made in roads that his predecessor, David Stolman, “didn’t know” were available after updates to state statutes governing how investments can be managed. of the county, including the inflow of corporate and municipal bonds. markets.

He added that the increase helps the Treasurer’s Office “give millions back” so the Lake County Board can “do things like road projects or flood (mitigation).”

McGuire said he wondered if the gains Kim has shared might be too good to be true.

“If I ask (Kim) details about that and how it happened, I’m not sure she can answer that question,” McGuire said. “It seemed to me a bit, how do I say this… impossible. If you’re investing according to state regulations and you look at the rates of return over those years, and I don’t want to answer your question for her, but in my opinion the only way you can do that is if you have a large influx on base. I tried to press her about it in another situation and she couldn’t really answer the question.”

Republican Paula McGuire of Green Oaks is challenging Democratic incumbent Holly Kim for Lake County Treasurer in the November 8 election.

McGuire said that if he were to win office, he would want to make sure investments are made in areas that are clearly permitted as defined in state regulations, saying, “There’s some question as to whether or not that’s actually happened in the past here at the last four years.”

“Because I’m not a politician, one of the things that most people say when it comes to the treasurer’s office is that they want to be more transparent and accurate,” McGuire said.

She said that for residents to “get the details” about the office, “they have to get the FOIA.”

Kim said he has made other improvements to benefit taxpayers, including lowering eCheck fees for free online and phone payments, as well as a move to join the Illinois BankOn Commission, part of a mission to prevent people take payday loans.

“We work with the state; it’s really a move where we move people away from payday loans and instead start a relationship with a bank or credit union,” Kim said. “There are a lot of things that I’m involved in that this office has done to help people.”

McGuire said his “stronghold is numbers” and that he has the financial acumen to “act proactively rather than worrying about acting reactively.” McGuire, a Lake County resident for more than 25 years, said he has experience in the insurance industry, banking industry and financial investment services.

She said it was the right time to run for public office as her children are adults and she is not one to sit and complain about things she would like to see changed, rather than act to implement them herself.

“With the way the political climate has been for probably the last five years, I don’t think anyone can really sit down and complain about something unless they try to do something about it,” McGuire said.

Kim explained that a move during the pandemic to allow residents to make their property tax payments in four installments demonstrates his ability to adapt and thrive in office during difficult circumstances.

He said 2022 has been the first “normal charging year” while in office after figuring out how to deal with new software released by his predecessor, which he said had a lot of “development issues”. Allowing four payments was not practical, Kim said, “but it was the right thing to do.”

“What that did in the third year that I was here was that we were operating in two fiscal years, so it was difficult for our accounting to catch up,” he said. “There were some things like sales tax that we had to pay twice in one year.”

Kim said he has also taken an active role in advocating for legislative changes that help county residents, including one that ensured more than 5,000 mobile home owners in Lake County would have late fees capped at $100 or 50% of your original tax bill, whatever is low.

Previously, she said there were instances in Lake County where clients were unable to keep up with their property taxes due to mounting late fees, something she called a holdover from the politics of politicians who, they wanted, he said, “to keep the poor poor.”

McGuire pointed to a mistake made earlier this year when many residents had both installments of their property taxes withdrawn from their bank accounts, instead of the first payment as scheduled, as evidence that change is needed locally. .

Kim explained in a June Facebook post that the double charging occurred due to “human error.”

McGuire, as well as some people who commented on Kim’s post, criticized the bug for possibly causing people’s bank accounts to be overdrawn, leading to overdraft fees and even stopping other scheduled payments.

“My question is, how do you break that two-payment process into four payments, but don’t test it enough to make sure it’s not going to be duplicated?” McGuire said. “I don’t understand how it could happen.”

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