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City out $30M in last decade

Meyer: Dixon has seen a $3 million rebound since Crundwell arrest

DIXON – With Rita Crundwell holding the financial reins, Dixon lost $30 million in operating funds in just the last 10 years.

The operating budget still is $16.6 million in the red, new Finance Director Paula Meyer told the City Council Monday, but the city has seen a $3 million rebound since Crundwell’s arrest in April.

The former Dixon comptroller has admitted taking more than $53 million from the city over the last two decades.

Worst hit was the capital development fund, which saw a loss of about $2.4 million in that time period, Meyer said.

“I wanted to show this is where we were at, and this is where we’re at now,” said Meyer, adding that the amounts are estimates. “There are going to be limits to what the city can do. They are limited on what they can borrow, and limited to what they can do to react to needs.”

The presentation came on the heels of one given by consultants Stan Helgerson and Dave Richardson, who advised the city to pay back at least $7 million it owes to city funds, including the $1.3 million owed to the motor fuel tax fund, the downtown development fund, the band fund, the Oakwood Cemetery fund, the civil defense fund and the emergency vehicle fund.

Also Monday, the council approved making an offer to settle a federal lawsuit accusing Dixon police of using unreasonable force in 2009.

The amount of the offer was not released; if it is accepted, the money will be paid by the city’s insurer.

“This offer is a business decision to limit exposure to the city’s insurance company,” Police Chief Danny Langloss said. “It was an offer the insurance company told the city to make. They determined it would cost more for the city to pay an attorney and win, than the settlement they are making.

“I remain confident my officers did nothing wrong.”

Mayor Jim Burke said late last week that he would vote against the offer, but he changed his mind come Monday.

Karen Beauchamp, 47, filed suit in April 2011 in federal court; it accuses the police department of civil rights violations and seeks more than $100,000 in damages.

According to the complaint, which named Langloss, Detective Nick Albert and Sgt. Troy Morse as defendants:

Police arrived at Beauchamp’s home on May 4, 2009, to arrest her husband, Billie, 46, on an outstanding warrant for a sexual crime to a child, Langloss said.

He handed his truck keys to her and as she turned to go back into the house, Albert told her she was under arrest, grabbed her left arm and pulled it backward, causing her to fall off the porch and land on her right elbow and tailbone. 

She had had rotator cuff surgery on her right shoulder 6 weeks earlier, which Langloss said the police did not know. She later had to have a second surgery on her right rotator cuff.

She then was taken to the police department and charged with misdemeanor resisting an officer. Prosecutors upped the charge to a felony aggravated battery, but she was found guilty of obstructing a service of process, a misdemeanor, during a bench trial.

An internal investigation found no violations, Langloss said.

It was conducted before the lawsuit was filed, per the department’s policy to investigate every incident involving force beyond the use of handcuffs.

“She was told she was under arrest several times and said ‘No, I’m not,’” Langloss said. “That is against every procedure to allow her to go back into that house once she was under arrest.”

Langloss said Beauchamp’s suit alleged three acts of misconduct, two of which were thrown out by the court: She said that she was wrongfully arrested and that too much force was used when she was thrown onto a couch.

“Her story of what happened on the stoop differs slightly from the officer’s,” Langloss said. “That is why the judge ruled a jury would have to decide what happened there.”

Also Monday, Lee County Animal Control withdrew its request for a special-use permit to open a dog pound at 928 E. River Road. Manager Teri Zinke said the agency’s plans are at a standstill.

Special-use permits by Kreider Services for a recycling center at 629 Palmyra Road and an exercise center by Connie Spencer at 141 North Court were approved.

The council also authorized a trash pickup contract to Affordable Waste Systems at a cost of $12.75 per residential unit per month for the first 2 years.

Residents now pay $13.40 per month.

The rates are expected to increase to $13 in the third year and to $13.25 in the fourth and fifth years of the contract.

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