Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- February 14, 1861Reform in Handling of Tax Money (Editorial)
The current Auditor's report contains complaints of a very grave nature about the Treasurer of Cook County. These charges point to the necessity of revising the laws which govern the delivery of money collected by county treasurers. From page seventy-seven of the Auditor's report we note that although they have collected it the treasurers of forty-two counties have not yet turned over $521,093 in tax money. And the Treasurer of Cook County is among them; he is $225,102 in arrears.
According to a telegraphic report published in the Chicago Democrat, the authorities at Springfield received money from the Treasurer of Cook County during the latter part of December; in other words, part of the tax money of 1860 was used to cover a part of the deficit of 1859.2
It is important that the people of Cook County know whether or not their Treasurer has covered the above deficit of $225,102, which had not reached the State Auditor December 1, 1860, as required by law.
We do not claim that there will be a similar deficit on December 1, 1861, but it cannot be denied that the County Treasurer directs a personal interest against delaying the collection of taxes, while half the taxpayers are interested in delaying collection. The state, as is indicated in this instance, does not receive the money within a specified time anyway. The collections, the property of the people, remain in the possession of the County Treasurer for months. He deposits the money in banks and draws interest.
The taxes for the year 1859 need not have been collected in the spring of 1860, since the money was not sent to the State Treasurer until the latter part of December.
Now we can understand why the County Treasurer objected to postponing the 3collection of the taxes for 1860 (due this year). As far as he is concerned, it is not only a matter of keeping the money in his possession and for his personal gain, but also of using the taxes of 1860 to cover the deficit caused by not delivering the tax money collected for the year 1859. .The fact that so many county treasurers are guilty of the same neglect of duty does not excuse the Treasurer of Cook County; most assuredly it does not excuse the enormous deficit of December 1, 1860.
In his report the State Auditor declared that changes in the law are necessary to prevent treasurers from using tax collections of later years to cover the deficits of previous years, and he recommends that county authorities refuse to permit treasurers to collect current taxes unless they show satisfactory evidence that they have delivered previous collections. Apparently, however, further steps must be taken. The County Supervisors have often audited the books of our County Treasurer and always reported them in good order. A law is necessary which makes it impossible for the county treasurer to use the money of the people for usurious purposes; a bill, making it mandatory that 4tax money be forwarded to the state at least once a month, is before the Legislature, and we urge that it be adopted immediately. This bill is in the interest of the people as well as the collectors, who will thus be freed from temptation.
I J, I F 6
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