Illinois is rife with units of government. Cities and counties, library boards and mosquito districts, townships and, of course, that most obscure layer of government, the township school treasurer.
Why on earth are we writing about this obsolete and annoying layer of government? Because it made its way into the news last week with word that an $800,000 accounting dispute between the township school treasurer and Proviso Township High Schools has moved toward resolution – though not to the credit of either party in particular. The moving force in finding and tracking down the wayward fund of school registrations, gym uniform sales and other paltry though incrementally notable fees was the school district’s new auditor, Mathieson, Moyski, Celer & Co. We’ll give an assist to Todd Drafall, the school district’s new finance director.
The Westchester-based Proviso Township School Treasurer’s office seems determined to obfuscate the dollars hidden away on its books. This office’s backward ways – they still rely on drivers to deliver financial reports rather than using e-mail attachments – are typical of government backwaters where accountability is lacking.
The problem is that almost no credit goes to the Proviso high school district either. Drafall is the fourth chief financial officer in the district since 2011. None of his predecessors found or solved this issue. And always remember that the entire district is now under state financial oversight.
So our impulse is to call for state and voter action to dissolve the township school treasurer’s office. It happened a few years back when Oak Park’s public high school led the charge to be freed from the Cicero Township School Treasurer’s office. The state legislature approved a referendum and voters eliminated that office.
The difference is that school finance officers in Oak Park had earned the trust of the public to manage fully their own money. Hard to make that argument in Proviso where political and administrative nonsense undermines any faith the public might have.