Time is drawing to a close for five decades in county government for one Cass County Board member.
Michael Barnett is not seeking another term on the board after being involved in county government since 1972. Barnett joined county government in June 1972 as the Treasurer of the county.
Barnett was appointed Treasuer to succeed John Myers. Barnett would stay in the office until June 1999. From 1999 to 2010, Barnett worked as the director of funds management under Illinois State Comptroller Dan Hynes. Barnett would move to the Cass County Board, representing District 1. For 12 years, he served as Vice chair of the Cass County Board serving under David Parish, who passed away in February 2019.
Barnett was named as Parish’s replacement as the chair shortly after Parish’s passing and has been serving as chair ever since.
Barnett said at the October 10th county board meeting that, in looking back, he’s proud of the current board and their ability to navigate through the rough times of the last three years: “I’m very proud of this board. The last four years, of course with Covid and related problems, has been very stressful, very trying; but the board has stuck together and I think has weathered all of those problems together. We are at the point in this county where we are the strongest financially that we have been in the last 50 years that I’ve been around county government – first as treasurer and the last as county board chair. Again, I’m proud of our board, our county, and our people.”
Barnett says looking back over the previous five decades, the county board has made several sound financial decisions for the taxpayers of the county: “Back in the late 1970s, our county jail was condemned. At that time, we chose to basically enter into contracts with surrounding counties and that has served us very well. Obviously the costs of running a jail has increased dramatically and our daily stipend rose for our prisoners but not nearly as much if we had our own jail. I think that was one of the good things. I think we’ve got through the Covid as best we could. Of course, there was a lot of controversies there, but I think we did the right things during the Covid. Two years ago the county went out and did some budget stabilization grants to help various businesses. I think we had 15-16 of those, so we are proud of that. It helped our businesses during that trying time. Again, the way the budget has been handled is another thing I’m proud of. As I mentioned in our board meeting, we are as strong financially as we’ve ever been or at least within the last 50 years, and I’m really proud of that.”
Barnett’s last official meeting will be next month.