Clean-up in process for Lyons Township school treasurer’s office
The door of the Lyons Township School Treasurer's Office in LaGrange Park hasn't been changed to reflect new board member Mike Thiessen of Western Springs, who was elected as president of the three-member board in November. | Jane Michaels—Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 14, 2013 6:12AM
LAGRANGE PARK — Reforms are under way in the Lyons Township School Treasurer’s Office to guard taxpayer funds.
As legal action proceeds against former treasurer Robert Healy, the three-member board overseeing the office has begun implementing measures suggested by the Better Government Association.
Mike Thiessen of Western Springs, who was appointed to the board in July and named president in November, said the office’s accounts have been consolidated in a single custodial account to ease tracking of investments.
“With the hiring of Chicago-based William Blair & Co., we have rid ourselves of every other investment adviser,” Thiessen said.
He referred to the BGA’s finding that Healy hired friends as consultants and paid them fees, which may have been above industry standards.
Investments will be made according to state standards for schools, rather than potentially more risky investments Healy authorized. And, campaign contributions won’t be solicited from investors, as the BGA had uncovered Healy doing.
A check and balance system has been initiated so that the board reviews monthly transactions, and two signatures are required on checks, Thiessen said.
Previously, there was little oversight in the office allowing Healy to overpay himself $539,120 in 840 unused days off, according to an analysis performed by the Chicago law firm of Kubasiak, Flystra, Thorpe & Rotunno.
The Lyons Township Trustees of Schools Board oversees Healy’s office, which invests more than $200 million in assets and manages payroll for 13 school districts and educational cooperatives in La Grange, Western Springs, Burr Ridge and other towns.
The board filed a civil suit against Healy Oct. 5 to recover about $500,000, Thiessen said. Material also was turned over to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, but no criminal charges have been filed.
When Healy resigned Aug. 31, the board hired Clyde Bradley, a school finance consultant, to serve as interim treasurer. Bradley’s contract was extended in November for two months to run through February to oversee reforms, Thiessen said.
The board has adopted a budget for the first time, and an audit of financial transactions for the past year is nearing completion, Thiessen said.
The budget, as well as minutes of meetings since 2011, aren’t listed on the office’s website, wwwlyonstts.org. The board is scheduled to meet again at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 19 at 930 Barnsdale Road, LaGrange Park.
Martin Brown of Western Springs, who has studied operations of the school treasurer’s office, said he was pleased with reforms so far.
“I think they’re definitely taking steps in the right direction, through there’s a lot of work to be done there,” Brown said. “It was neglected for years.”