MANSFIELD — The Blue Ridge Township supervisor accused of failing to submit township payroll taxes on time resigned earlier this week.
Sandra Manuel, in office since 2005, submitted a letter of resignation which was accepted unanimously at a special meeting of the township board Wednesday.
Township officials had filed a four-count lawsuit in August asking that Manuel be removed from office for neglecting payroll taxes, along with not reporting tax levy amounts received, failing to present bills and concealing $8,399 in late fees owed to the Internal Revenue Service. Court documents also show the township at one time owed at least $19,489 in taxes to the Illinois Department of Revenue.
Since Manuel has resigned, at least two counts could be dismissed in upcoming weeks, according to Township Attorney Michael Tague. One asked that Manuel be fired as supervisor. Another asked for an injunction to prevent Manuel from writing township checks unsupervised while the case for dismissal was considered. Piatt County Judge Chris Freese granted that injunction on Sept. 12.
The remainder of the case revolves around the township getting back late fees and penalties for what township board members call "willful neglect of duty." The governmental entity is working with the insurance agency that backed Manuel's $635,000 bond as supervisor. But the Township Officials of Illinois Risk Management Association — a blanket policy that covers township officials — requires a claim to be filed prior to any court case proceeding.
A process toward filing that claim has begun, but Tague said it could be six months before officials will know how much state township association will pay.
"We have accountants and auditors onboard to right the ship financially and to bring the township into compliance with tax returns. That process will take 60 to 90 days," he said. At that point the last of claims can be filed with the state township association, which under terms of the insurance policy has 90 days to act before the township can go back to court, added Tague.
Township Road Commissioner Chris Kirkland said he saw problems starting in 2009. His personal statements from the Social Security Administration "showed I had not contributed for two years. At that point she was behind back to 2006." He claimed it was brought to the attention of the township board and Piatt County state's attorney's office, which sent a letter to Manuel expressing concern.
The issue heated up at a board meeting in August, when the township's bank questioned a $3,656 cashier's check to the IRS drawn on the township account.
Blue Ridge Township officials hope to hire a new supervisor as soon as possible, according to Township Clerk Deby Huchel.
"They (the township board) will be taking resumes and conduct interviews at the regular board meeting Oct. 11. It is open for anyone to apply, but they would have to be members of the Republican Party since she (Manuel) was a Republican."
Candidates must also be a resident of Blue Ridge Township. Those interested should send resumes to Blue Ridge Township, c/o Deby Huchel, P.O. 446, Mansfield, IL 61854.
The township has two full-time employees, with four seasonal employees who help plowing snow and with road projects.