DIXON – Illinois cities and counties could soon be required to get annual audit presentations.
State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, sponsored HB5503, which unanimously passed both chambers of the state Legislature on May 22. It now awaits Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature to become law, which Demmer said he expects to happen.
The bill, Demmer said, was inspired by former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell’s theft of nearly $54 million over 2 decades.
Before Demmer’s bill, which was co-sponsored by State Sen. Michael Connelly, R-Wheaton, cities and counties were required to have an audit completed and file it with the Illinois comptroller’s office.
But that was it.
“There’s a big difference between getting an audit done and doing something with it,” Demmer said.
Now, cities and counties will be required to post the audits on their websites, if they have them, and also to hear an audit presentation from the auditors during a public meeting.
The bill strikes a balance, Demmer said, to improve government accountability and transparency without burdening governments that are doing the right thing.
The audit’s presentation to the county board or city council must happen within 60 days of its competition. It can be made in person or live by phone or video conference.
Each member of the board or council must also be given a copy of the management letter and any audited financial statements.
Demmer, who previously served on the Lee County Board, said there’s “great value” in being able to ask auditors questions, especially if elected officials don’t have backgrounds in accounting or finance.
The bill’s main objective, Demmer said, is “to make sure that the audit doesn’t just sit on a shelf and collect dust. Get something out of it and have a couple conversations about it.”