Supporters want to know where the money has gone
Donors want to know if their contributions went toward paying off Riverfront
DIXON – Donors to the Riverfront Commission are worried, board members said.
During their meeting Tuesday, some board members said they have been approached by people who pledged money to the construction of Heritage Crossing and who wanted to know if their pledges actually went to paying off the project.
The concerns are the result of the arrest of Dixon’s top finance officer. Former Comptroller Rita A. Crundwell, 59, is charged with federal wire fraud, part of what prosecutors say is the misappropriation of $53 million in city funds over more than 20 years.
At this point, there is still much that is not known or has been made public about what funds may be affected or how prosecutors think fraud occurred. The council plans to hire a forensic auditor, and has approved a contract with Wipfli to have the audits since 2006 redone.
The locks on City Hall also apparently were changed, locking the board members out of the building. The commission moved around the corner to its office on Hennepin Avenue, leaving a note on the door.
The commission also was notified that the city has closed its post office box. The city’s bank statements used to come to the box, where prosecutors say Crundwell would pick them up or have a relative do so.
When pledges come into the Riverfront Commission, Chairman Larry Reed said, he makes copies before sending them on to Treasurer Coral Tichler. She puts them in one of the commission’s two bank accounts, which are separate from the city accounts that Crundwell used to control.
Reed said he sends a signed thank-you note to every donor.
“If they haven’t received a thank-you note, there’s something amok,” he said.
When a certain amount of money accumulated, it was paid back to the city, so the city could pay off the bonds it had taken out to cover construction and other Riverfront costs.
Reed kept documentation of the payments made to the city, but he did not track the money after that point, he said.
When it comes to handling expenses, Reed gets the bills, which he OKs before handing them off to Tichler to be paid. Reed receives the bank statements, which he checks. Tichler then reconciles the accounts.
Those reports are submitted to the commission each week.
“I don’t have a problem with that,” said John Varga, one of the commissioners who had been approached by donors.
Secretary Pris Brickley added that she thought they were fine, too.
But mostly she was frustrated.
“Am I angry? Yes, I’m angry, but it’s not the word I want to use,” Brickley said.
“I want to say I’m disturbed by the fact that as a commissioner on this Riverfront, we have sat and struggled with where we are going to come up with the money to pay back the city for the Riverfront. “
DIXON – The Riverfront Commission is holding a special meeting on the boat docks at 9:30 a.m. May 19 at Dixon Main Street, 115 S. Hennepin Ave.
Its next regular meeting is 6 p.m. June 12, at City Hall, 121 W. Second St.
Agendas and minutes are available at discoverdixon.org under Form Downloads.