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Little said about financial problems

Board meets day after official takes blame, adds trustee

Walter Neal
Walter Neal

ROCK FALLS – Coloma Township’s board of trustees met Thursday, a day after its supervisor took blame for the township’s financial problems and admitted she’s not good with math. 

The board held a scheduled meeting to fill a vacancy on the board, but nothing was said during the session about Supervisor Debra Burke’s statements. She presided over the meeting. 

Afterward, Gene Jacoby, a township trustee for more than 35 years, declined to speak about the issues, saying repeatedly “no comment” to a reporter. 

Another trustee, Mary Richardson, said Coloma’s finances were a “work in progress.” The township, she said, would have answers once the audit is done.

Trustee Peggy McFadden said a day earlier that Coloma’s books were a mess. 

At the meeting, the trustees considered three candidates – Pam Henderson, Don Koehler and Walter Neal – for the position left vacant by longtime Trustee Bob Sondgeroth, who resigned in September. 

Jacoby asked Neal, who was at the meeting, whether he planned to run for the office in the next township election, set for April 2017. 

“That needs to be asked,” Jacoby said.

Neal said he would. 

Jacoby backed Koehler’s candidacy.

“He has a real fine idea about what needs to be done,” Jacoby said. “He’s a really steady person.”

The vote was a tie between Neal and Koehler. Jacoby and Richardson voted for Koehler, while McFadden and Burke backed Neal, a former Riverdale school board member. 

Township Clerk Pamela Erby broke the tie in favor of Neal.

In a later interview, Neal said he would study the issues.

“I’m on the outside. It’s hard to make a comment right off the bat,” he said. 

Coloma Township hasn’t submitted a financial report to the state comptroller’s office – something every government entity is required to do annually – since 2009. Every other taxing body in Whiteside County has done so, including the other 21 townships, all but one of which are smaller than Coloma.

The township also has been late – sometimes by years – publishing required financial reports in the newspaper. 

When Coloma finally has published reports, they have been riddled with errors. 

In the Wednesday interview about the problems, Burke said, “It’s all on me.”

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