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Dixon mayor asks commissioners to reconsider votes

Financial controls review was voted down

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 Monday’s city council meeting. On 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.

On Wednesday, Considine 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 has not responded to a request for comment but after Monday’s meeting said she was confident in the current controls.

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

“Dixon is probably the most financially solvent city in the Midwest,” Burke 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 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 verifying the current controls and getting recommendations for other controls was 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, the mayor said. That is what contributed to former Comptroller Rita Crundwell being able to steal nearly $54 million from the city over two decades, he said.

Crundwell was arrested at Dixon 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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