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Coloma trustee: 'You're opening up a floodgate'

Coloma rethinks giving to groups

Published: Monday, April 14, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
Walter Neal

ROCK FALLS – Coloma Township is rethinking its longtime practice of handing out money to local groups that request help.

Under Illinois law, townships have a few mandated duties, including taking care of country roads, aiding the poor, assessing property values and running cemeteries.

But they can expand their role to other areas. Some townships, including Coloma and Sterling, give money to nonprofit organizations.

At last week’s Coloma Township meeting, the agenda indicated the board would hear requests to give money for a school supply drive, the American Legion and St. Vincent de Paul.

The township trustees took no action on the requests.

Walter “Butch” Neal, a trustee appointed a few months ago, said Coloma wanted to figure out its finances before giving money to others. A year ago, an auditing firm started examining Coloma’s books, but has yet to complete the process because the finances are in such disarray, township officials say.

“We have to wait and see what we have. There is no way to justify giving out money when we’re trying to figure out what we have,” Neal said.

He has reservations about the township donating to groups.

“You’re opening up a floodgate,” he said. “If you give money to some, how do you say no to others? There has to be a limit.”

Trustee Peggy McFadden also questions donations to groups. For instance, she said, the township contributes to a school district’s after-school program.

“I don’t agree with that,” she said. “They’re already getting tax money for schools.”

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