Rutland controversy continues to simmer

Acrimony and controversies continue to dominate Rutland Township.

Most of it involves township finances, accounting, and financial reporting practices. The factionalized board manages to carry out most functions in spite of, rather than because of, the differences among the elected officials.

Focus of current debates are the responsibilities of various elected officials over the auditing and management of township accounts, bill paying, payroll, and financial reports.

On February 13, Trustee Steve Schuldt contended that Supervisor Margaret Sanders hasn’t implemented suggestions for improving financial procedures and reporting. Specifically, he said she hasn’t addressed deficiencies that have been communicated to the township by its auditor, the Elgin firm of Tighe, Kress & Orr. Twice in the last three years, the auditor has suggested that the township include at least two employees in several financial tasks to improve internal control of bank reconciliations, writing of checks, cash transactions, and payroll procedures.

The problem is – these are suggestions only, not mandates or legal requirements.

Sanders acknowledges that she has not implemented the auditor’s suggestions exactly as recommended, but she contends that internal control is accomplished at a monthly board meeting of trustees. At this time, she said she submits seven financial reports to other trustees and they are discussed by the board before action is taken to pay bills and approve financial reports. These reports include a list of expenses by vendor, a detailed check register for the month, employee earnings summary for the month, statement of cash flow, balance sheet with previous year comparison, a year-to-date profit and loss statement with previous year comparison, and a profit and loss budget vs. actual, year to date.

“This is what the Township Officials of Illinois handbook requires me to do, and it is the way I believe all townships handle finances,” Sanders said last week. (She is currently secretary of the Township Officials of Kane County).

She also says that Rutland Township has no staff resources and it isn’t possible to assign additional people to financial control activities.

“Some townships, like in Elgin, are larger and have additional employees who can share in the segregation of duties on these matters. We are small, and we don’t have the money to do it that way. The only people in the office are myself as supervisor and the clerk, or other elected officials. Everything I do is reviewed and approved by the board of trustees. I believe we are being responsible to the residents of the township,” she said.

The Township Officials Handbook provides that the township board must meet regularly to examine and audit township and road district accounts before any bills (other than general assistance, or obligations required by federal and state law, or other expenses determined by the township board by resolution) are paid, provided that payments made pursuant to a board resolution must be reviewed and verified at the next meeting.

The Sun Day reached out to the auditing firm for comment on this situation, but it declined.

All of this is significant because of the April 4 election, where there is competition for the balloting for all of the officers that will serve the township for the next four years. Sanders, a resident of Sun City is opposed for re-election as a supervisor/trustee by Eldon Brauer, also a Sun Citian. Incumbent trustees Steve Schuldt, John Payson, Raymond Eaton, and Fred Bulmahn also are opposed.

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