Dixon Wants Community Input to Move Forward - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Dixon Wants Community Input to Move Forward

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It is one of the final steps on the road to recovery for Dixon, Illinois. A date has been set for a public hearing that will open the city's books to its residents, and let them weigh in on where money should be spent.

This comes after an investigation that started more than a year ago. Rita Crundwell was first arrested last April. The former Dixon Comptroller pleaded guilty in November to stealing nearly 54-million dollars from the city. Investigators now say it had been happening for 20 years. She created false accounts and invoices, and pocketed the money. But the city is getting a big chunk of that back, thanks to a settlement just reached with auditors and bankers. And city leaders say they want residents to have a voice on where that 40-million dollars will go.

Attorney Devon Bruce, with Power Rogers & Smith broke it down last week. "You see in every one of Rita's invoices, there's a misspelling. Section is spelled s-e-c-t-o-n as opposed to s-e-c-t-i-o-n. You don't have misspellings in form bills." And as attorneys comb through past records in this case, Dixon city leaders are opening their books and looking to the future, holding an open meeting to let residents know where the city stands financially.

Mayor Jim Burke, on the record, saying, "We were able to pay our bills and keep our head above water in spite of this embezzlement, but we did it by borrowing a lot of money." He says he can't give us numbers now, but staffers will lay out just how much money was borrowed and how much interest is owed, and will ask residents where they want to see the settlement money go. Only telling us the 40-million, "That isn't gonna take the whole thing to take care of the debt."

So that leaves other projects in the city that could be paid for. Burke says he's heard about fixing up streets or the local pool. "There's passions about that pool. It's incredible," he tells us, saying there is a petition with 23-hundred signatures from those who want it restored. And almost as many people have stopped him on the street to say they don't.

He says city leaders have made no decisions yet, and won't until after this meeting. "The decisions we're going to make concerning this financial recovery are going to be what is in the best interest of the community and the taxpayers. That is the bottom line criteria. And we follow that and we can't get into to any trouble."

The public meeting is set for Thursday the 10th at six pm. It will be in the lower level of the Loveland Community Building on West Second Street.

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