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Dixon mayor asks commissioners to reconsider votes

3 commissioners voted down firm contract

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 12:47 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 10:57 p.m. CDT
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Dixon Mayor Jim Burke (left) and Dixon Park Board President Ron Pritchard listen during an unveiling Feb. 6 of plans for a statue of former President Ronald Reagan at Lowell Park. Burke on Wednesday asked commissioners to reconsider their votes Monday to reject a review of the city's financial controls.

DIXON – Mayor Jim Burke isn't giving up his efforts for a review of the city's financial controls.

A contract for the review was voted down 3-2 during a City Council meeting Monday night. Wednesday, Burke issued a public statement and emailed the council to ask the three commissioners who voted no – Colleen Brechon, Dennis Considine and Jeff Kuhn – to reconsider their vote.

Considine on Wednesday said he had no plan to reconsider.

"Absolutely not," he said. "I would not reconsider my vote. I gave valid reasons on Monday, and they haven't changed,"

As of midday Wednesday, Kuhn said he hadn't read the mayor's email but would listen to what he had to say.

"It would have to be a very, very good reason," he said. "I think we have it set up very nicely, and I can't see wasting taxpayer dollars."

Brechon said residents she spoke with since the meeting supported her and the council's decision against the review, but that the system was set up to allow for commissioners to change their minds and she would at least listen to the opposing side.

In his email to the council, Burke said he believed that votes against the review represented the commissioners' belief that no further oversight was needed.

"Dixon is probably the most financially solvent city in the Midwest," he said in the email.  "With a comprehensive internal control assessment and public report, we can be known as having the best municipal financial controls in the state and Midwest."

Burke suggested that the council get a presentation from Sikich, the Naperville-based accounting and consulting company that was going to be contracted. A lower price for the review might be negotiated, he said.

In a phone interview, the mayor said he wasn't sure whether his plea would work.

"I think it might depend on different things," he said. "I'm sure hoping they will. ... It might depend on what the public reaction is."

Burke said he was "poking at their thinking" and hoped the commissioners would decide that verifying the current controls and getting recommendations for other controls would be valuable.

While he said he has all the faith in Finance Director Paula Meyer, he doesn't want the city to be complacent and assume everything is fine. That is what contributed to former Comptroller Rita Crundwell being able to steal nearly $54 million from the city over 2 decades, he said.

Crundwell was arrested at City Hall in April 2012, and in the aftermath the city hired Meyer and City Administrator David Nord and made various changes to the city's finance department.

Getting the financial controls review, which could cost about $35,000, is "prudent financial management of the city," Burke said.

Since Meyer was hired, the city has added another employee to the finance department and has five employees working under Meyer, Nord and City Clerk Kathe Swanson.

Each of the five employees has a different responsibility – from inputting changes to printing and mailing checks – meaning no employee can individually complete the process.

Meyer has – by design – limited her ability to update or input information into the city’s accounting system, and the city no longer writes checks.

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