Madison County Associate Judge Thomas Chapman will take under advisement a lawsuit filed by Wood River Township Assessor Wilma Kochan against Wood River Township Supervisor Mike Babcock and the members of the township board over failure to properly fund her office. Judge Chapman will determine if he has the ability to make a ruling in the case, since state law gives the board the power to set the budget.
The lawsuit stems from the board taking action earlier this year to cut the assessor's office budget by 15-percent, which Kochan says in the suit was "arbitrary and capricious" and politically motivated. Kochan says she does not have enough money to run her office effectively and had to lay off two employees as a result. The board has contended that there was waste that needed to be cut after it found employees were being paid for taking time off, in addition to vacation and holidays, and that the office was not always open during normal office hours. The judge says he will study if he has the right to rule in the case, and is giving the attorney for Kochan another week to file additional arguments, and then allowing the defense another week to respond.