Lyons Township Treasurer’s Office under fire again for financial problems

Financial mismanagement charges continue to swirl about the Lyons Township Treasurer’s Office with a second district requesting legislative relief to withdraw.

La Grange Elementary District 102 has joined Lyons Township High School District 204 in requesting passage of a state law allowing the districts to separate and manage their own financial affairs.

District 102 appealed to Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-41st, of Lemont, in a letter dated Aug. 21. Radogno previously supported legislation to allow the separation passed in the Illinois House by state Rep. Jim Durkin, R-82nd, of Western Springs.

The measure languished in the Illinois Senate, and Radogno had expressed frustration Senate President John Cullerton didn’t allow the measure to move forward.

“The inefficient, redundant and wasteful practices of the LTTO continue to the detriment of the taxpayers of the district at a cost of at least $120,000 annually, and LTTO continues to report a negative fund balance of $2 million and growing,” the District 102 Board said in the letter.

The district complains township Treasurer Susan Birkenmaier, hired in October, is outsourcing her responsibilities of investing member districts’ funds at a cost of $360,000 annually in addition to her annual salary. Other township treasurers invest the funds without hiring a separate firm, the district argued.

The district also said it has no voice in treasurer’s office expenditures, which are charged back against district funds held by the office.

In addition, District 102 objects to the treasurer’s office lawsuit filed against Lyons Township High School costing $188,000 in legal fees so far.

The treasurer’s office filed suit Oct. 14 in the chancellery division of Cook County Circuit Court seeking $4.4 million from LT. The treasurer’s office oversees investments, payroll and financial services for 11 school districts and two cooperatives.

“Bringing legal action against a ‘member’ district costs the taxpayers who are paying the legal fees for both the plaintiffs and the defendants,” the District 102 letter stated.

The district also has asked for a forensic audit in the legal dispute, but was told the information was “privileged.”

A host of financial irregularities within the treasurer’s office were uncovered by a Better Government Association investigation of former Treasurer Robert Healy in May 2012.

Healy resigned that August, was sued by the treasurer’s office in October, and was charged with felony theft of government property totaling $1.5 million in August 2013 by Cook County prosecutors.

District 102 also objects to the township treasurer’s office’s hiring of a new auditing firm in 2013 without input in the process and a lack of commitment in distributing shares of some of the $1.5 million recovered after Healy embezzled funds.

Further contentions center on a disputed software purchase to manage township treasurer’s funds and “unworkable processing procedures” impacting District 102’s financial operations, the letter said.

The full text of the letter is in the Aug. 21 board packet at www.dist102.k12.il.us.

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