Security a concern at Will Co. buildings
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org May 16, 2013 7:58PM
Updated: June 18, 2013 8:18AM
JOLIET — Members of the public who enter the Will County Office Building each year aren’t always happy, or sober.
Irate citizens come to protest their property tax assessments. Angry residents attend heated meetings over zoning issues. And once, an election judge showed up drunk for a training class.
“He reeked of alcohol, and I told him to leave the class,” County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots said.
There is another risk each spring and fall as taxpayers carry in large amounts of cash to pay their property tax bill at the treasurer’s office.
That’s why it’s essential that security be provided at the building whenever it’s open, said Voots, whose office is on the building’s first floor.
She said if security is withdrawn from the building, 302 N. Chicago St., her office will no longer be open a half day on Saturdays to dispense birth certificates and wedding licenses. It’s not safe to have two employees working in the large building when no one there to make sure they are protected, Voots said during a Will County leadership meeting Thursday.
She was reacting to a plan by Sheriff Paul Kaupas to yank three deputies from the county building, probation department and health department security details because of a budget deficit. Starting Sunday, the three deputies will be reassigned to make up for the 12 he lost during the last two years due to buyouts, Kaupas said.
During Thursday’s meeting, however, Undersheriff Marty Nowak said the three officers would remain on duty at the county buildings until new arrangements could be made for security.
“I’m sure we can work something out,” Nowak said during the meeting, which Kaupas had to leave early to get to a sheriff’s department awards luncheon.
Finance director Paul Rafac said it makes sense for Kaupas to reassign the deputies because they are “topped out” employees whose salaries and benefits cost the county more than $126,000 a year each.
Instead of using expensive full-time deputies, county officials said they would consider paying for off-duty or retired deputies or a private security firm, which is something the health department already does to supplement security at its multi-building site.