ROCK FALLS – Coloma Township’s financial problems shouldn’t be blamed on just one person, a township trustee said Wednesday.
“It’s your fault for not getting things done,” Trustee Walter Neal told Supervisor Debra Burke at a board meeting Wednesday. “It’s the board’s fault for not seeing that things got done. The board can’t be buddy-buddy.”
By a 3-2 vote, Neal was appointed to the township board last month, filling the position left vacant by Bob Sondgeroth. Burke, who started as supervisor in 1981, voted for Neal.
Of the other three trustees, Gene Jacoby has served for more than 35 years, Mary Ann Richardson started in the last couple of years, and Peggy McFadden was appointed earlier this year.
Neal also said the trustees were obligated to speak with the press to let the public know what’s going on.
“We can’t keep saying no comment,” he said.
Jacoby has refused Sauk Valley Media’s requests for an interview, once telling a reporter “no comment” repeatedly. The others have given interviews.
Jacoby and the others didn’t address Neal’s comments during the meeting.
Last month, the state comptroller’s office levied more than $13,000 in fines to Coloma Township because it hadn’t submitted an annual financial report since 2009. In the last few weeks, Coloma has turned in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 reports.
The 2013 report is outstanding, which Burke plans to turn in next week.
The township also has submitted error-plagued, overdue reports to the newspaper, which must be submitted as a legal advertisement every year.
Burke has blamed wrong numbers in her computer for the problems with the reports, saying she was now relying on bank statements. She also has said she wasn’t good at math.
The township’s auditing firm, Wipfli, has required Coloma turn in revenue numbers and other information by Friday, or it will stop working on the township’s audit until the tax season ends in April.
Burke told the board that she thinks she can meet the deadline.
“I’ve been working every night on this,” she said.
In Illinois, townships maintain roads, assess the value of properties, provide assistance to the poor and run cemeteries.