PG auditorBy Shelby R. Farrell


POPLAR GROVE – The Village of Poplar Grove’s Board of Trustees was quick to appoint its auditing firm as interim village treasurer after being without one for almost two weeks.

Maria Forrest submitted a letter of resignation to the Board of Trustees saying she would resign as of Sept. 15, and at a Special Village Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 28, the trustees approved for Sikich, LLP to act as interim village treasurer, completing those duties as assigned.The board also accepted the letter of resignation at that meeting.

Forrest was the interim treasurer for the village from 2009 to 2011 when she was appointed, and there was no reason for her resignation in the letter, which was dated Sept. 15 and said, “Please accept my resignation effective today Sept. 15, 2015.”

At the special meeting, Village President John Neitzel thanked her for her time in the position where her duties and responsibilities included cash management and investing, debt management, payroll and pension administration, preparing financial statements, budgeting, financial planning and forecasting.

“Maria has been the appointed treasurer since 2009, and we’ve made such monumental progress through her work since then, and we thank her for her support and the contribution that she has made to the village,” he said.

Neitzelwas also elected in 2009, and the village was $450,000 in debt. Since then, the village implemented taxes and other ways of fixing the financial deficiencies, and in 2015, the village was able to fund more than $950,000 worth of capital improvements, according to a letter-to-the-editor that Neitzel wrote to the Rockford Register Star in August.

In the same article, he said the problems stemmed from the village growing from “a few hundred to our current population of more than 5,000 residents” in the last two decades and the village government not growing with the village itself.

To help further fix the gap, Village Administrator Diana Dykstra requested an audit from Lauterbach and Amen this year, which revealed problems with money handling and financial policies. The company gave the village 28 recommendations for their financial woes, which the board plans to implement at least a quarter of it by the end of the year.

Dykstra said that when she got Forrest’s letter to resign, she decided to ask the auditing for recommendations on where to find an interim treasurer.

“Sikich came highly recommended as one of the top three auditing firms in the state,” she said. “Lauterbach is one of the others as well, and so we wanted a different firm to perform those treasurer functions.”

She said there shouldn’t be much of a difference between using a firm versus appointing an individual to perform the duties, and the village will be assigned one person from the firm. She also said they won’t have to go through a learning curve because the people who work at Sikich, LLP are familiar with the software that the village treasurer would use.

“Our plan would be to have them do bank reconciliations, forecasting and reporting to the board, any journal entries that may be required and payroll,” Dykstra said. “I think the benefit is the skills and abilities of this audit firm to come in and possibly make recommendations to better practices based on government standards.”

Dykstra said the village should need the firm to fulfill these functions with a staff accountant in eight hours a week at $100 an hour, working under hourly wages. She also later said the village “won’t need the senior partner to come and do bank reconciliations,” which would cost $120 an hour.

“I think there will be a time frame where this cost will exceed our monthly allotment,” she said.

“However, it will clear up some inefficiencies. I feel confident this will balance out by the year-end to provide the additional guidance we needed and streamline those duties. The goal would be to make ourselves more efficient and when we are prepared to make a decision about the position, we will have a better understanding of what positions are needed.”

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