Could it happen here?

PRINCETON/SPRING VALLEY — Local officials are still talking about Rita Crundwell, the top financial officer in the city of Dixon, who is accused of stealing $30 million from the city. Crundwell was arrested Tuesday at work at Dixon City Hall.

On Friday, Princeton Mayor Keith Cain said he thinks Princeton has a good checks and balance system in place to safeguard anything like the Dixon event happening in Princeton. There is no one person who is in charge of any payment of bills or the handling the city’s money. Each and every check requires two signatures.

As part of that checks and balance system, each commissioner on the city council reviews the bills for his department. All bills are presented at city council meetings and open for questions by any council member, Cain said, adding all bills are signed by him and the city clerk.

In addition, there is also a checks and balance system within the city clerk’s office, Cain said. For instance, one person does payroll, while another writes the checks for bills. No one person handles it all.

When the new city manager, Jeff Clawson, comes on board in two weeks, Cain said he will also be part of the checks and balance system, Cain said.

Brad Kloepping, treasurer for the city of Princeton, agreed with Cain that Princeton has a good checks and balance system in place, with different people collecting funds and then others depositing funds in the different banks in town. City officials go through a rigorous budgeting process each year. The city has a detailed audit completed each year which makes sure money is allocated properly and also gives a comparison of the year’s revenue and expenses to the previous year, Kloepping said.

Concerning the Dixon event, Kloepping said he’s surprised someone didn’t notice the city of Dixon was losing a lot of money, allegedly $30 million during the past five or six years. Even with Princeton’s, or any other community’s, checks and balance system in place, there are still no guarantees that something couldn’t happen, like someone hiding some money under the table, which is apparently what happened in Dixon, Kloepping said.

City officials in Spring Valley are also bewildered at how a city employee could have stolen $30 million.

“That’s hard to believe,” said Mayor Cliff Banks. “It’s possible — anything could happen, but the city clerk keeps a pretty sharp eye on everything.”

In addition to City Clerk Becky Hansen, City Treasurer Jack Boroski also is looking out for the city’s money.

On Thursday, Boroski was still puzzled by the alleged crime.

“I don’t understand how it could happen when you’ve got auditors that check on all the accounts,” he said. “I don’t understand how it could happen unless somebody’s not paying attention.”

Boroski praised the honesty of city employees in Spring Valley and said he and Hansen cross check the accounts to make sure every dollar is accounted for. In addition, the city council’s finance committee also keeps an eye on the finances.

“You always need cross checks of everything,” he said.

In addition, Boroski said auditor Arch Hopkins of Granville does a great job of watching the city’s funds. He said he’s not sure why Dixon’s auditors wouldn’t have caught the issue sooner.

“I can’t understand, with having a good auditor, why that would happen,” Boroski said. “When you’ve got outside auditors, they’ll ask the banks what they’ve got for accounts.”

Boroski said Crundwell’s alleged activities must not have been watched closely.

“I can’t fathom how this could have happened unless they just gave her carte blanche to do that,” he said. “It’s crazy.”

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