The Village of South Jacksonville selected a new public accounting firm last night as a part of their monthly meeting. Village Office Manager & Treasurer Tiffanee Peters received 2 bids, with the trustees accepting the low bid of $22,500 from Eck, Shafer, & Punke LLP of Springfield. Village Trustee Paula Belobradjic-Stewart says it was some old business that she promised to clear up for constituents: “Back in 2015 when I was appointed to be a trustee, that was the height of a lot of discord within our village. One of the things that stuck out in my mind that was not checked off that village residents were demanding from that time was the switching up of the auditing firm. Certainly nothing against the past village auditing firm. That was never the point. The point was simply because of what we had just come through in 2015, residents wanted a clean slate and they deserved that.”
Stewart is alluding to the fallout of alleged theft allegations in 2014 against former water clerk Linda Douglass and the alleged misconduct of former Village President Gordon Jumper and retired Police Chief Richard Evans, Sr. that resulted in an Illinois State Police investigation. No formal charges were filed against those former members of the village’s administration. Stewart says it resolves some of the remaining cloud of the dark times for the village. “I was elected in 2017, and since then, I have been trying to make sure that we put this last piece in the puzzle. I think there will still be people saying that there is more work they would like to see done from back in 2015. But as far as what I can help do as a trustee, this is my last piece, and hiring this new auditing firm is going to give outside eyes a chance to look at the village’s finances. That’s exactly what residents wanted, and I couldn’t be more happy for them.”
The village had previously retained Jacksonville-based Zumbahlen, Eyth, Surratt, Foote, & Flynn, Ltd. for a number of years as the village auditing firm. The Village now moves into looking at cash flow and budgeting issues that many municipalities are facing around the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Village has begun scheduling budget meetings in the next week with department heads for the upcoming fiscal year.