Sheriff candidates disagree on who should control the department’s money

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Current Winnebago County Sheriff, Gary Caruana, and his challenger for the November election, Bob Springer, are at odds over who should have control over nine separate financial accounts used by the Sheriff’s Office.

Caruana thinks the sheriff should manage the accounts, while his opponent wants to put the County in charge.

“Some of these accounts are very specific into what purchases or money from them they can be used for,” Springer said. “For example, drug money, whether it’s federal or state, has to be tied to some drug enforcement.”

“There’s got to be some division between administration and the Sheriff’s Office, and that’s one of them,” Caruana said.

Currently, the accounts are solely controlled by the Sheriff’s Office, but Springer argues there needs to be a system of checks and balances put in place.

“Those accounts need to be centralized into the County’s structure, for the managing of it, for the keeping of the checkbook,” Springer said.

The same practice is in place for other departments, like the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Caruana says those departments can’t be compared like apples to apples, because law enforcement has unique needs other departments can’t relate to.

“These are accounts that you don’t want to combine, because of the law enforcement needs,” Caruana said. “If we need drug money for our narcotics team at two, three in the morning – buy money – I have to have that accessible.”

The use of the accounts are checked each year.

“These accounts are 100% audited. They’re

Springer believes taking the Sheriff’s Office out of the equation would keep spending in the open.

“Winnebago County tax payers are entitled to transparency for all country accounts,” Springer said.

The money spent does not come from taxpayers, but both Caruana and Springer say they have taxpayers in mind when thinking of who should be in control fo the Sheriff’s Office spending accounts.

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