An anonymous Curious Kenosha visitor asks: “How did the village of Silver Lake find, have, misplace or hide almost $2.8 million found in eight accounts recently?”
Municipal accounting varies by municipality, and is inspected by independent audit firms on a regular basis. The roughly $2.8 million referenced in the question did not cause any red flags during the most recent village audit and was not misdirected or overlooked, said Village Clerk Vicki Galich.
It is the amount of general fund money divided between eight different bank accounts established prior to Galich being appointed clerk.
“The money has always been accounted for,” Galich said. “Every month I get a bank statement, and we balance.”
Galich said she believes previous clerks preferred to have separate accounts as a way to ensure “none of those funds were touched for anything other than what they were specified for.”
Salem Administrator Patrick Casey recently reviewed Silver Lake finances in preparation for the merger of Salem and Silver Lake into the village of Salem Lakes.
“It was never hidden,” Casey said. “It was not found. It wasn’t lost.”
Every year, he said, the village is audited and these funds are disclosed, “so there is no hidden money or really a way to hide it.”
He suggested the Silver Lake Village Board look at it as a collective amount, totaling roughly $2.77 million, and use it to pay down debt. The Village Board voted to pay off roughly $722,000 of debt, which saved taxpayers money in interest.
“The village is debt free,” Casey said, with the exception of the Clean Water Fund.
There is now roughly $2 million left in reserves.
Silver Lake village president Bruce Nopenz recently suggested designating the remaining money for three purposes:
— Spur development along Lake Street.
— Build out the fire station to accommodate 24-hour staffing.
— Fund miscellaneous park improvement projects.
Casey suggested it could be put into a reserve account specified for Silver Lake projects after the Feb. 14 merger.
Galich said discussion of the matter is on the agenda for the first Salem Lakes meeting, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Salem Lakes Village Board will be made up of the former Silver Lake officials until the general election in April.
We retooled the Curious Kenosha question this month to tap into something on the minds of many people: the government.
Be it local, state or federal, we’re going to dedicate reporter time to answering your questions about how government works or the people who run it.
Visit www.kenoshanews.com/curiouskenosha this month to submit your government-related question, read what others have submitted and — when voting rounds are taking place — have your say on which ones we answer.
Curious Kenosha is a digital initiative by the Kenosha News that invites members of the community to submit questions about the Kenosha area, its people and culture. Questions are then assigned to reporters, who invite the asker to participate in the reporting process.
Answers are published at www.kenoshanews.com/curiouskenosha and in the print edition.