The News first reported that several City of Toulon Menard’s charge account purchases have had possible irregularities.
Since that time, The News has thoroughly researched the City of Toulon’s invoices from its account with Menard’s in Kewanee and found a number of significant purchases that appear to be of little use in city operations. The News obtained through the Freedom of Information Act for purchases between January 2012 and October 2013.
Toulon Mayor Larry Hollis has said that he is also researching the invoices to determine what purchases may not be legitimate for city use.
During these 22 months, a total of $28,927.83 was charged on the Menard’s account.
Of the 1,712 items purchased, the three largest single individual purchases were: $1,593.84 for Click Bamboo hardwood flooring; a tankless water heater for $1,199; and $1,139.81 for a countertop. For these three purchases, the total equals $3,932.65.
Some purchases appear questionable: litter scoop $.94; large enclosed cat pan $12.99; a pair of sunglasses $3 and a modern carriage lantern (light) $37.57. This total equals $54.50.
The News was taken on a tour of the ambulance service administrative offices facility, which is rented from the City of Toulon. The only work being done there by the city is the construction of a bathroom, which is still in progress. Mayor Larry Hollis also conducted a tour of the city’s water plant building at the request of The News. The purpose of the tours was to identify questionable items on the charge account.
The mayor has been responsive to all requests made of him by The News, which is appreciated.
The mayor and city employee Mike Richardson identified items actually utilized from the Menard’s purchases that The News initially questioned. For example, $4,111.90 worth of lumber and building materials during the 22-month period was utilized appropriately by the city.
The News, through an evaluation of Menard’s website and entering sku (store keeping unit) numbers to determine what an item is, has categorized some of the purchases charged.
Below is a listing of items The News questions:
This category includes an IPod/IPhone docking station $71.90; a 12-inch pizza oven $49.98; humidifier $64.99; three dehumidifiers at $199.95 apiece totaling $599.85; infrared heater $99.99, and a $39.99 one acre 40 watt bug zapper. Category total is $926.70.
The News can identify three buildings the City of Toulon utilizes, but believes the following purchases may be beyond what those properties would need.
Ceramic floor tile $835.80; 15.5 gauge floor stapler 2” $55.99; 18 1×1 “summer rain mosaic” flooring $100.62; nine rugs (of various sizes) totaling $345.72, and a 12 foot woven carpet for $85.68. Category total is $1,423.81.
Another category includes items purchased that do not appear to fall under city operations:
These items include candy $204.47; six shepherd’s hooks (for hanging plants) $37.44, and pottery/vases $239.92. Category total is $481.83.
The grand total of just these categories accounts for $6,819.49 of the 22-month total of $28,927.83 of tax exempt purchases on the Toulon Menard’s charge account in Kewanee.
This represents only a portion of the total items obtained at Menard’s. Funding, in part, for all the 1,712 items purchased comes from Toulon’s taxpayers and from customers who utilize the city’s water system.