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Our Opinion: Things look good; let’s make sure they are

Published: Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

Should Dixon city government strive to be known for having “the best municipal financial controls in the state and Midwest”? That’s what Mayor Jim Burke thinks.

Given the city’s history of financial controls over the past couple of decades, that’s a laudable goal – maybe even a necessary one.

Just think of the irony of Rita Crundwell’s hometown having a reputation for its ironclad accounting of taxpayers’ dollars. That would make a swell roadside sign to greet visitors as they enter the city.

All kidding aside, we think the mayor is right that – given the city’s current reputation – an expert review is in order for the city’s newly installed system of financial controls.

But in a 3-2 vote on Monday night, the City Council rejected a proposal to have such a review conducted by Sikich, an accounting and consulting firm from Naperville.

We can understand the reluctance of council members Colleen Brechon, Dennis Considine and Jeff Kuhn to approve the proposal from Sikich, which wanted $35,000 for the work.

Although the city is sitting on some cash after recovering about $40 million in the wake of Ms. Crundwell’s $54 million theft, that’s no reason not to be prudent with every dollar the city spends.

The council majority seems confident in the new system established by Finance Director Paula Meyer, who came on board 4 months after the FBI led Ms. Crundwell out of city hall in handcuffs in April 2012.

Among other changes made, no longer does a single city employee – not even Ms. Meyer – have the unilateral spending and accounting authority enjoyed by her predecessor. That’s a start.

Sikich proposed an exhaustive 18-month review that would conclude with recommendations for further reforms.

We were happy to hear Mayor Burke suggest that the fee might be negotiable.

Soliciting other proposals – in terms of both scope and cost – might be wise.

But either way, an outside review of the city’s barely tested system is an excellent idea.

After all, we have a reputation to rehabilitate.

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