By Vinde Wells
A forensic examination of the Ogle County Sheriff’s Tow Fund may cost double the original estimate.
The Ogle County Board on Tuesday authorized paying Sikich LLP, Naperville, up to $7,500 more to dig further into the financial records.
The board agreed in May to pay Sikich $7,500 plus out-of-pocket expenses for the initial investigation into the Tow Fund expenditures and revenues.
County board chairman Kim Gouker said then that if fraud was uncovered during the examination, the costs could increase to as much as $300 per hour for the investigators’ services.
In May, the board approved engaging the forensic services of Sikich to examine Tow Fund expenditures and revenues from the time it was implemented in 2011 to the present.
The firm also does the county’s regular annual audits.
Tuesday’s motion to pay Sikich the additional sum met with some opposition. The measure passed 19-3 with board members Lee Meyers, Byron, Lyle Hopkins, Polo, and Dorothy Bowers, Byron, voting no.
Board members Bill Welty, Chana, and Bruce McKinney, Rochelle, did not attend the meeting.
Meyers said he believes Sikich is changing the cost midway through the process.
“I think they need to have their feet put to the fire and made to do it for the original $7,500,” he said.
Pat Saunders, Polo, said she remembered that Sikich officials said at the start that additional fees might be incurred.
Hopkins said he is opposed to spending more.
“If they haven’t found anything that jumped out at them by now, why should we give them more money?” he said.
“Could it be they have found something?” asked Bobbie Colbert, Rochelle.
“That could be,” replied Gouker.
Gouker said that so far the investigators have looked through the records they knew to be in existence and spent three days “on site” doing that.
“Examinations like this are like peeling off an onion,” Gouker said. “There are different layers. They said the records were quite disorganized.”
He said the investigators want to look at more records and do more interviews.
They may find what they need without using all of the additional $7,500, he said.
On the other hand, Gouker said, this may not be the last time they ask for more funds to complete the examination.
Martin Typer, Stillman Valley, said he believes it is important that the examination is completed, even with the additional cost.
“We owe it to the people we represent to find out what happened,” he said.
Gouker said he was misquoted in a newspaper article that said he has not seen a preliminary report from Sikich.
He said Sikich has not yet completed a preliminary report on their findings to this point.
In other business the board:
• gave approval by a consensus to have Chevron Energy Solutions Company do an assessment of county facilities at no cost,
• learned from Gouker that Candace Humphrey has resigned as Ogle County Emergency Management Agency coordinator.