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Coloma submits reports to state

Trustee: Treat numbers with skepticism

Published: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 1:15 a.m. CST
Caption
Debra Burke (center), superivisor of Coloma Township

ROCK FALLS – Embattled Coloma Township has turned in two of its late financial reports to the state. One remains overdue.

The 2010 and 2011 reports were on the state comptroller’s website Wednesday.

They arrived after the state informed Coloma that it was fining the township more than $13,000 for those late reports and two missing audits from the mid-1990s.

Coloma Township Debra Burke said Wednesday she planned to turn in the 2012 report soon.

Under the appropriations section for both the 2011 and 2012 reports, the township listed the main fund twice, overstating the total by more than $350,000 both years. Burke said she wasn’t aware of the double listing.

Over the years, the township has also been late in publishing financial statements in the newspaper. Once published, they contained many errors, carrying over the same exact amounts for revenue and expenses from year to year.

Trustee Peggy McFadden, who took a seat on the board just this year, said the public should treat the numbers in the comptroller’s reports with skepticism.

“Maybe she’s doing it right now,” McFadden said about Burke. “Until she shows me that it’s correct, I just have a hard time believing anything she tells me.”

McFadden said that soon after she joined the township board, she found that Burke would often fail to get things done that she had promised.

At a special meeting Tuesday night, the other trustees expressed frustration with Burke, who has been supervisor since 1981 and was unopposed in this past April’s election.

The trustees unanimously decided Tuesday to have a township employee log in all the mail and phone calls coming into Coloma.

Before, McFadden said, that employee was not allowed to open any mail while Burke was out of the office.

“We haven’t actually been able see all of that stuff, but that’s going to change,” McFadden said. 

The township has asked the state comptroller’s office to eliminate or reduce the fines. 

Recently, Burke sent a letter to the comptroller’s office to explain why the reports were late. 

Trustees have tried to seek that letter from the comptroller, but the agency denied the request, apparently because it contained private information. Mike Dropka, a comptroller’s spokesman, said the official who handles Coloma was gone Wednesday, so the office couldn’t comment on the letter.

At Tuesday’s meeting, longtime Trustee Gene Jacoby accused Burke of ignoring the comptroller’s office since 1995, the year of the first missing audit.

Burke told the trustees that she had corresponded with the comptroller’s office, but hadn’t been on the phone with the agency since August.

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