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Show facts on township fund discrepancy

Published: Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Coloma Township trustees in an effort to learn how it was possible for them to spend the exact same amount of money on small miscellaneous charges 3 years in a row ($61,177), and then have that number plummet to $20,816.

Considering the financial records mess left behind by former Supervisor Burke, perhaps it is understandable that the information the township belatedly turned over was not responsive to my request.

No information was given on the General Assistance (GA) fund, the account where one might expect the largest number of small disbursements, and where $43,827 has disappeared into something called an “inter-fund adjustment.” Blacking out a GA recipient’s name would have solved any confidentiality concerns. 

In April, the township electors and the trustees unanimously voted to institute a forensic audit within 90 days. When I asked at the July meeting what progress had been made on that, Trustee Neal responded that it was too expensive. Since a forensic audit was not on the annual meeting’s agenda, raising questions on the validity of the vote, the board could correct this error by including it on the August agenda.

The board could narrow the scope of the forensic audit to the GA fund, and reaffirm its commitment to straightening out the records. Judging from Ogle County’s estimate for a forensic audit of a fund similar in size to our GA fund, the cost would be less than half of what the board gave away last year in charitable gifts. 

Burke claimed the “missing” money, in her special area of expertise, is attributable to clerical errors, but she chose to resign without identifying them. It’s past time to find out whether that is true.

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