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La Salle County plans to adopt ethics and fraud policies

Both may enhance county's ability to receive grants in the future

The La Salle County Board will need to adopt fraud and ethics policies if it wants to continue to receive state grants.

Finance Director Joyce Tucker discussed the proposed policies with the La Salle County Board on Thursday and members were told their adoption is a new condition when receiving grants to ensure the money they receive is not put at risk.

County Board Chairman Jim Olson, D-Seneca, said the county hasn't been turned down for grants because the policies have been lacking, but that may change.

"We've not (been turned down) but we've been put on notice that 'these things we see you do not have, you need to start working on this' and if we don't then yes I do think in the future it would put us at risk of not getting certain grants," Olson said after the meeting.

The policies were crafted off ones created by the Attorney General's Office with some revisions.

The ethics policy advises employees should not engage in "political activities" while being paid by the county nor should they or their spouses or immediate family accept gifts from "prohibited sources," which is defined as those seeking a specific action from the worker or does business with that worker. A violation could result in discipline or discharge.

A fraud, waste and abuse policy is similar but deals more with recognizing abuse and reporting it.

Tucker said the county is known as a "high-risk," which means the likelihood of fraud or abuse occurring is increased and additionally increases the chances of it not being reported.

The policy requires the county to create a mechanism to anonymously report abuse as well as training to recognize it.

"When you've worked for a supervisor for 25 years and you've done something a certain way for 25 years until you're trained that maybe this isn't the correct way to do it, you don't know. So training is a main part," Tucker said.

County Board Member Russell Boe, R-Ottawa, asked what the new policies would cost the county and Tucker said that would be determined later but gave a rough estimate of between $7,000 and $9,000 to train every county employee.

The policies will be voted on at a future board meeting.

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