Under the Radar: Coloma yet to submit reports

Official: State will withhold money

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

ROCK FALLS – Coloma Township Supervisor Debra Burke has yet to submit long overdue financial reports to the state – despite a recent promise to do so.

In a Thursday, Nov. 21, email to the township’s trustees, Burke said her goal was to turn in the reports to the state comptroller by that weekend. She has yet to do so. 

The township hasn’t submitted reports to the state since 2009. It is the only governmental entity in Whiteside County that hasn’t done so, and that includes all 21 other townships, all but one of which are smaller than Coloma.

The township’s trustees are becoming increasingly worried about Coloma’s finances. Its legal notices in the newspaper have been riddled with errors.

Trustee Peggy McFadden said the trustees hoped to have an accountant attend a special board meeting tonight.

“We have a lack of communication, definitely,” she said. “That’s probably why we’re in the position that we’re in.”

The state comptroller’s office has already levied $13,065 in fines to the township because of the late reports and two missing audits from the 1990s. Burke, who started as supervisor in 1981, has pledged to pay the fines.

In a Nov. 18 email, Pamela Erby, the township’s clerk, told the trustees that a comptroller’s official informed her that, because of the delinquency, the state will withhold any money due to Coloma Township until the reports are filed.

The official, Erby said, blamed a longstanding lack of communication with the township. Erby was also informed that Burke recently submitted a two-page fax, but the comptroller’s office said it couldn’t release the document without a Freedom of Information Act request.

McFadden said another trustee had filed the request. 

Asked why the trustees couldn’t get the document from the township itself, she said, “I don’t know why we couldn’t.”

In an interview last month, Burke broke down into tears, explaining that she wasn’t good at math. She said she was trying to be accurate.

To attend

The board of trustees for Coloma Township will meet at 6 p.m. today at the township office, 1200 Prophet Road in Rock Falls.

The board has invited an accountant to discuss the township's finances.

Call 815-625-5981 for more information. 

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