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D113A may sell bonds to pay back state $589K

Lemont, IL

Caption
An Old Quarry Middle School student boards her bus on Wednesday, Oct. 12. Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A has put together a transportation committee to analyze the district's bus and walk zones.

The District 113A Board of Education on Tuesday may decide how to pay back another six-figure sum to the state after results of an audit confirmed the district made and received “unallowable” reimbursement claims in 2010.

As first reported by the Lemont Reporter/Met, District 113A owes the state an additional $260,705, bringing the total amount of money owed to the state to $589,661 — $328,956 of which stems from an audit into unallowable reimbursement claims from 2009.

The audit of the Fiscal 2010 transportation claims — conducted by the Illinois State Board of Education — was obtained Wednesday by the Reporter/Met via a Freedom of Information Act request.

Board president Mike Aurelio said the district has two options to pay back the $589,661 — have money deducted from future claims from the state or issue a $1.6 million bond to free what he called idle money in the district’s bond and interest fund.

“We could use $600,000 of the $1.6 million and pay (the whole sum) off,” Aurelio said. “That is an option available to the board. Transportation won’t have to be canceled for the students. There is no financial reason to do that at the moment.”

The board previously agreed to pay back the $328,956 portion of the money owed by having the state deduct from future claim reimbursements over the next three years, but that plan may change if the board moves forward with a bond sale, Aurelio said. He added that if that is the option the board sticks to, the transportation fund will be very “tight.”

Board member Lisa Wright said it’s unclear if the board will have to make any reductions or cuts in the transportation fund moving forward.

“It’s unfortunate this happened,” Wright said. “However, it has and we have taken corrective actions. We’ll work with the state on a repayment plan, pay it back, and move forward.”

Wright added the repayment should be discussed at the next board of education meeting on Tuesday.

Interim Superintendent Robert Madonia said he was informed by ISBE’s External Assurance Division on March 29 that the district owes $236,423 from unallowable reimbursements in the transportation fund and another $24,282 unallowable reimbursements in special education from the Fiscal 2010 claims.

The $260,000 figure comes in a little lower than originally expected.

In January, District 113A Business Manager Barbara Germany told the board she estimated the district may owe another $295,000 to the state after she reviewed the claim from Fiscal 2010. The state audit brought the number to $260,705.

“It is very unfortunate that current taxpayers are paying for past errors,” Aurelio said. “... It is unacceptable and I will see to it that something like that won’t happen again.”

According to the Fiscal 2010 audit from ISBE, District 113A was reimbursed for the following unallowable claims: non-reimbursable miles, non-reimbursable expenditures such as salaries and purchased services, and lease payments. Also, the audit stated that depreciation was overstated by $4,363 due to incorrect principal costs used for radio equipment and other items on the depreciation schedule.

Germany was charged by the board of education in December with the duty of reviewing past claims so the district would be aware of any other possible repayments it would need to make to the state in the future.

Germany was given the duty in December after former superintendent Tim Ricker told the board of education the district owed the state $328,956 — money the district requested and received in reimbursement claims from the state surrounding transportation costs in Fiscal 2009.

Ricker resigned shortly after he informed the board of the mistakes.

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