Public calls out Atlanta, Illinois, library on real estate deal
Atlanta, Illinois, residents crowded a recent library board meeting to question the propriety and legality of purchasing property owned by one of its board members, a video of the meeting posted on the Illinois Leaks website shows.
The board member, William "Bill" Thomas, was not in attendance.
George Lincoln challenged the purchase price of the building after saying he investigated the appraised value at the assessor's office.
"This building is $14,730 as of today," Lincoln said. "It was reassessed in March of this year, so it's less than $45,000 in value, and you intend to spend $200,000 and raise taxes."
John Kraft, the co-founder of the Edgar County Watchdogs, which posted the video, said that a trustee fact sheet on conflict of interest used the example of a library board purchasing a lot from a real estate company with which a trustee was associated. It was deemed a conflict of interest. Kraft pointed out that the first conflict was leasing the building from Thomas, regardless of whether he was present or voted on the real estate deal.
Kraft told the board that he believed it had violated the Open Meetings Act in January, when members attended a retreat, and in June, when they voted on the building purchase. The real estate lease was not on the meeting agenda.
Questions were also raised regarding a $35,500 grant. Allegedly the invoices did not match the money orders, and funds are missing. The use of money orders without copies versus the use of library checks was also questioned.