CLEVELAND - Financial transparency is a key issue separating the five people seeking the three trustee seats to be filled in Cleveland on April 9.
Trustee Steve Ballageer, running for re-election, said the present board hasn't had a single bill presented to be paid in four years. He said treasurer's reports can't be trusted to be correct, and the board doesn't get to see a bank statement. He said the board has no idea what the mayor, treasurer and clerk might be spending.
Among the murky financial matters, Mr. Ballageer said, are those of the Rock the River event launched several years ago to raise money to pay for mowing and maintaining 37 vacant lots in the Rock River flood plain. The federal government purchased and removed the houses.
He said the event made money the first three years it was held, but the town basically started financing it after that.
"It's easy to show a profit if they paid for bills out of the general fund, but that's not what we set Rock the River up for," he said. "Until we get it back in the hands of people that are trustworthy, there's no sense running it. Hopefully we can get it going again, but it won't be this year."
Trustee Chad White, the mayor's son, said he's seen the checkbook and the village's finances are correct from what he's seen. "All you have to do is ask the treasurer (Richard Lindell) nicely and he'll let you see it," he said.
Mr. White said he believes it's all right for general funds to go toward security and sanitation for the Rock the River event because proceeds from the event come back into the village.
"It's worked in the past," he said, adding that newer trustees haven't participated in events. "They just object to everything."
"I'd like to see things get back to the way they used to be where everybody got along," he said.
Newcomer Daniel Boggs said he believes there needs to be some compromise in Cleveland government and the only reason he is running is to have someone living on top of the hill involved. (A portion of Cleveland is on the bluff above the flood plain from which the 37 houses were removed.)
"We pay most of the base now for the village of Cleveland," he said. "I just feel that I can possibly get some things accomplished down there."
Mr. Boggs a general contractor, said that if the Rock the River event is part of Cleveland's attempt to try to pay for mowing the vacant lots, he thinks the town should pay for the security and port-a-potties.
Brian Davis, another newcomer, said he believes the village's checkbook should be at the village hall for everybody to look at, considering the number of people that want to see it and the problems other communities have had.
"They shouldn't have to go to his house, it should be there for them to see," he said. "It's not that we don't trust anybody, it's just should be there for everybody to know."
Regarding the Rock the River event, Mr. Davis said if the event turns a profit every year it should be self-sustaining and ongoing costs should come out of the fund that's put aside for it.
"Otherwise, if it's costing the village, it just wouldn't be a good business to be in," he said.
Newcomer Taren Komadina said she just wants to help the community and make it a better place.
"I'm not too involved with all the finances," she said. "I just want to make it a better place in the town of Cleveland. I am a family person."
She said she was sure the Rock the River event made money because she attended it and saw that money was used to build a playground where her son plays.
"That's one of the good benefits," she said.
She concluded by saying people should vote for her because she is willing to listen to what everyone has to say and then to vote on what would be best for the town.