DIXON – There will be no review of the city’s current financial controls. At least for now.
On Monday night, the Dixon City Council voted 3-2 against placing a contract on file that would have brought in Sikich, a Naperville-based accounting and consulting company, to review the financial controls and make recommendations for additional controls or procedures.
The contract could have cost the city about $35,000.
Voting against the contract were commissioners Dennis Considine, Colleen Brechon and Jeff Kuhn.
All three said they were confident in the current controls that have been implemented since the hire of Finance Director Paula Meyer in 2012, in the wake of former Comptroller Rita Crundwell’s arrest for the theft of nearly $54 million over two decades.
Considine said investing another $35,000 into the finance department would be irresponsible given all the changes – Meyer’s hire, the hire of City Administrator David Nord, and new accounting software and systems – that have taken place at city hall.
“We haven’t even given the systems we have in place a chance to work,” he said. “And if the next council and mayor want it taken care of, then they can invest the city’s $35,000 to the best of their ability.”
Mayor Jim Burke and Commissioner Dave Blackburn voted in favor of placing the contract on file.
“I think in the interest of total transparency – and this no reflection on Paula at all – but I think that we need to have a firm that comes in, takes a look at what we have done,” Burke said. “And if it’s as clean as it amounts to, that’s fine. But there may be some recommendations to make.”
Burke also said that contract with Sikich would cover things the city’s current audit, done by Wipfli, doesn’t cover.
Since Meyer’s hire, the city has hired another employee in the finance department and hired Nord as its first city administrator. There are now five employees in the Finance Department who work under Meyer, Nord and City Clerk Kathe Swanson.
Meyer has limited her ability to update or input information into the city’s accounting system and the no longer writes checks. Both were done by design.
Each of the five employees has a different responsibility, from inputting changes to printing and mailing checks. No single employee can individually complete the entire process.
“There are many things we can do with $35,000 in this city besides stumble over our feet,” Considine said. “We already are as clear as crystal glass in our financial department. And I think we’re one of the best cities in the country at this point in time. We haven’t even given everything we’ve done a chance.”
Brechon said she agreed with Considine and doesn’t think the city needs to spend more money to have someone tell them they have adequate controls. She also said she doesn’t think the city needs to have a company evaluate the quality of the controls against best practices.
“I’m not sure that’s something I want the company to come along and tell me,” she said. “I mean, as a council member, I feel like it’s my responsibility to listen, to reflect and to listen to what the community has to say and to vote. I’m not sure that it’s my job to have a company come in and tell me that, as a commissioner.”