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Questions arise whether county treasurer is full time


La Salle County Treasurer Jim Spelich says he works full time for the county, but a document he filed with the federal government indicates otherwise.

Spelich, who was elected in 2014, continues to work as a financial adviser for Raymond James Financial in Peru.

Spelich, who makes $68,000 a year as treasurer, is running for re-election and is unopposed in Tuesday's Republican primary. Two Democrats, Nikena "Nikki" Baer and Kyle Fogle, are running in the Democratic race. The winner will face Spelich in the November general election.

At a candidates forum earlier this month, Baer promised to be a full-time treasurer and said Spelich worked part time in the job.

Financial advisers are required to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In Spelich's online filing, he lists himself as working 80 hours a month as treasurer, which translates to 20 hours a week. His filing was last updated in December 2017.

In an email this week, Spelich said he would update the SEC document to indicate he is a full-time county worker, saying he appreciated the reminder. He said the information on the treasurer's hours was posted before the 2014 election.

"Not ever holding the position as La Salle County treasurer, I had to make an estimate of the time involved," Spelich said in the email. "After being elected and working in this position I understood the time involved. I am committed to making sure my duties to collect and distribute our tax dollars are done as quickly and efficiently as possible."

In a 2014 Times election questionnaire, he said the job is full time and that he would be at the treasurer's office every day.

In a statement this week, he said he has treated the job as full time.

"I work a lot of hours every week. I am at the courthouse every day. I meet with the chief deputy every day in addition to my staff," he said. "Between my hours at the courthouse and my obligations as treasurer outside of the office, I spend on average 36 to 40 hours a week to fulfill my commitments as treasurer."

Spelich also said he had to allocate time early in the mornings, in the evenings and Saturdays and Sundays to complete both his public and private commitments.

In an interview this week, Baer, who runs a marketing business, continued to maintain Spelich is a part-time treasurer.

"I completely disagree that he is working 36 to 40 hours a week in his treasurer capacity. People in the courthouse would disagree. His office is two miles from mine in Peru. I see his car outside his (Raymond James) office during the business day," Baer said.

In an email, Baer said she was not going after Spelich personally, but believes taxpayers deserve the full-time treasurer they are paying for. If she is elected, she said she would remain president of her company but would shift day-to-day operations to a staff member.

"By being there full time (as treasurer), I would be able to devote more time to research processes and procedures to reduce time and costs," Baer said.

In an email, Spelich said he noticed Baer listed herself in The Times' questionnaire as a licensed financial adviser. But he said he found no record on the SEC website that this is the case. The site indicates she has not been registered since October 2016.

In response, Baer, who has more than 20 years in banking, said she passed the relevant exams while training with Edward Jones. She said she had the education to be a licensed financial adviser but chose not to renew her license because her career had taken another path.

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