News Report Staff

Replacing a retired County Treasurer might not happen with the current officeholder planning to hold the position, even though he is working full-time at another job.

On Monday, Effingham County Board Chairman Jim Niemann said County Treasurer Steve Dasenbrock told him during a phone conversation that he does not expect to leave his elected position until the month of September. The announcement came during the Legislative Committee of the Whole meeting that included the treasurer’s retirement question on the agenda a few weeks after Dasenbrock said he was taking another job in the city.

Legislative Committee Chairman Jeff Simpson said since Dasenbrock had not submitted a resignation from his elected position, the committee, which includes all board members, could not move forward on the issue. If Dasenbrock resigns in September, it might take weeks before a temporary replacement can be named to meet the political and legal requirements of filling a vacancy in an elective office.

This left some Democrats in the county board meeting room questioning Dasenbrock staying with a county job long after he has already started working full-time for J&J Ventures in Effingham. Dasenbrock declined to file last December for re-election and no Democrat filed to run in the March primary.

With Dasenbrock’s intent to retire before the election, the local Democratic Party leadership, by state law, intended to make a recommendation for a replacement before the fall election. The county board has the final say on an appointment, but some critics consider this delayed retirement a delaying tactic.

“So he will remain as treasurer, even though he has another full-time job?” asked Effingham County Democratic Central Committee Chairman Dan Niebrugge. “It looks like you’re keeping him in office longer just to block us.”

County board member Karen Luchtefeld, one of two Democrats on the nine-member board, said Dasenbrock is using taxpayer money to supplement his full-job job.

“It doesn’t make me happy that my tax money is being used this way,” Luchtefeld said.

She also questioned why other board members are requiring a letter of resignation from Dasenbrock, who was first elected in 1998, when he seemed to leave the decision to the county board at the May board meeting. Dasenbrock said there were concerns about his leaving county government as the property tax process kicked into high gear this summer, but he offered different dates for leaving office.

During a phone interview Tuesday morning, Niemann said the situation rests with Dasenbrock and not the county board. Niemann said Dasenbrock has offered help in the county taxing process and preparation of the county budget as he remains as Treasurer. Dasenbrock has developed a skill for accuracy on projecting county income, which is vital as the county board determines future spending, the county board chairman said.

“He is working full-time at J&J Ventures, but he will stay in contact with the (Treasurer) office and said he could make our board and budget meetings. He told me he’s available by phone when we need help with the budget,” Niemann said. “Is this ideal? No. But it is what it is. Elected officials are accountable to the voters, not the county board. I’m hopeful it’ll work out. It is still his office to run.”

The Effingham County Democrat leadership wants Democrat candidate Bill Passalacqua appointed to fill the treasurer’s vacancy until the November 6 election. Dasenbrock previously suggested one of his current employees could serve as interim Treasurer.

Any one appointed to fill the Treasurer position temporarily must be affiliated with the Democratic Party through their voting record. That rules out naming Paula Miller — a longtime employee of the treasurer’s office and Republican candidate for the office — as interim Treasurer.

The Democratic Party in the county believes Republicans on the board are blocking the appointment of their recommendation for an interim Treasurer, but they don’t have too many options at this point to gain an advantage.

“There’s nothing legally we can do if he is an elected official,” Niebrugge said after leaving the committee meeting Monday afternoon.