Auditor General releases report

By Mike Solley

The total cost of remodeling, equipment purchases and maintenance for the home of former NIU President Clyde Wingfield is scheduled for release in a Supplementary Financial Information report by the Illinois Auditor General.

Lyle Manock, audit manager for the auditor general, said the report will be released to the public in six weeks. He said the auditor general’s office is making a final review of the report before making its findings public.

The purpose of the report is to “review university appropriations, expenditures and do an analysis of change” in those areas, Manock said. Supplementary Financial Information is provided every two years concerning expenses. Three additional items are included in this year’s report, which deal with the Wingfield house, he said.

The first item deals with remodeling costs, already determined to exceed $20,000, Manock said. The second item deals with purchasing equipment costs, while the third addresses house maintenance costs, he said.

“You can add these together and get the total cost of the project,” Manock said. Because the report is not ready for release, Manock said he could not reveal the exact costs related to the project or if any recommendations will be included in the report.

NIU Controller Robert Albanese said the university administration already has seen the report and has made its response, which will be included in the final draft of the report.

“Basically, we agree with the findings and agree with the numbers they (the auditor general’s office) came up with,” Albanese said. The report, therefore, will be the last word on the cost, he added.

Purchase and work orders revealed about $100,000 was spent for renovation, remodeling and refurnishing at Wingfield’s home. Questions of excessive costs led to a request by State Sen. Patrick Welch, D-Peru, that the Illinois Attorney General and the Illinois Auditor General investigate the matter.

A report issued last week by the auditor general revealed NIU did not seek proper approval for $20,000 in remodeling costs. The report stated NIU needed to seek approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education before beginning work on the Wingfield house.

At a press conference Tuesday, NIU President John LaTourette denied that laws had been broken and further stated the auditor general “had no business in determining if there was a violation of the law.”

Welch said he is waiting for the releasew of the attorney general’s report. The report is necessary to determine what, if any, laws were broken, he said.