SPRINGFIELD – You could call it Rita’s Law.
A bill requiring Illinois cities and counties to get annual audit presentations was signed into law Thursday. The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon.
House Bill 5503 unanimously passed both chambers of the state Legislature on May 22.
The bill, Demmer has said, was inspired by former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell’s theft of nearly $54 million over 2 decades.
The new law requires that, within 60 days from the close of an audit of a local government’s funds and accounts, the auditor must provide a copy of any financial statements to each member of the city council or county board, and present the information to the council or board in a public meeting.
Also, if an audited local government maintains a website, the city council or county board must post the information contained in the financial statements of the audit.
“This is an important law that will see local government audits receive the attention they require so that councils fully understand their liabilities,” Demmer, a former Lee County Board member, said in a news release.
“Audits are annually prepared as mandated by law, yet they can be shelved away too quickly. This new law will see that those audits are available for public view, and presented in a more effective way.
“The city of Dixon had significant issues with audits that were not fully heard and understood, and this law will ensure that a local government audit is executed in a way that fully protects vital city funds.”
Before Demmer’s bill, which was co-sponsored by State Sen. Michael Connelly, R-Wheaton, cities and counties were required only to have an audit completed and on file with the Illinois comptroller’s office.
“There’s a big difference between getting an audit done and doing something with it,” Demmer said in June.
The measure improves government accountability and transparency without burdening governments that are doing the right thing, he said.