This editorial represents the consensus opinion of the editorial board of the Daily Herald.
It was practically an on-deck situation earlier this month when DuPage officials met to discuss the county losing up to $4 million in marijuana tax revenue.
The chief executive, chief financial officer, county auditor, and a representative from the state’s attorney’s office appeared at the county council’s finance committee to help explain DuPage’s failure to properly notify the state of collecting marijuana tax money for the county.
One person conspicuously absent from the May 10 meeting was County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek.
Several county council members said they wanted the opportunity to ask Kaczmarek questions. They reportedly asked what the clerk’s office did after the county council in October 2019 imposed a 3% retail sales tax on all recreational marijuana sales in municipal areas of DuPage. The order stated that copies of the document “would be certified by the clerk and sent to the Illinois Department of Revenue” by October 30, 2019. Under state law, the tax would have taken effect in July 2020. .
But county officials learned last fall — after some raised questions about marijuana tax receipts appearing to be low — that the state revenue department never received the documents.
As a result, DuPage never received 18 months of tax revenue generated from marijuana sales at dispensaries operating in the county. Details of the cost of the mistake have been revealed after officials gave a full account of the potential loss.
DuPage officials say the estimated amount of lost revenue for the county is approximately $3-4 million. The county council wants to know what went wrong and what procedures it needs to establish to fix it.
So County Council Speaker Dan Cronin and Vice Speaker Ashley Selmon sent a letter to Kaczmarek asking him to attend next Tuesday’s meeting to answer questions about the process in his office regarding the marijuana tax ordinance filed. On Friday, Kaczmarek declined, saying “the ongoing elections demand my full attention at this time.” Still, we hope she meets with the county council.
We understand that this is a busy time for the clerk. There is a primary election underway.
Still, a mistake cost DuPage millions of dollars, and regardless of who’s to blame, the county council is right to try to find out what happened. Kaczmarek herself should do it too.
To date, his office has not provided any documentation proving the order was sent to Springfield. Whether it was posted or not, we may never know. But undoubtedly, Springfield didn’t get it.
The county council and the clerk have a duty to work together to ensure that a mistake of this magnitude does not happen again. It’s unfortunate that Kaczmarek is considering missing an opportunity to do so. We hope she will change her mind.