WTVP cooperating with information request from Illinois AG’s office

The station says it has also filed a police report with the Peoria Police Department.
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 4:15 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2023 at 5:37 PM CST
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PEORIA (25News Now) - WTVP is filing a claim for employee theft as several investigations are in motion to determine the cause of improper, unauthorized, and questionable spending at the public television station.

WTVP says it has been asked for information from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. The station also filed a report with the Peoria Police Department. 25News has submitted a Freedom of Information Act Request for that police report. Both are related to WTVP’s internal review of its finances.

Treasurer Helen Barrick, Chairman Andrew Rand, and board member Sid Ruckriegel generally talked around specific details during the public portions of the Board of Directors meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The station did reveal that WTVP is filing an employee theft claim with its insurer. Board members did not reveal who stole or how much but made a point of saying they were limited to a $250,000 claim limit for theft no matter how many people were involved and over how many years.

“This policy is for any employee theft whether it was single or more employees are involved. It doesn’t matter it’s just here is your theft limit?” a member asked Rand.

“Yes, we asked each year, the number of persons involved and that’s it, that’s the limit,” he replied.

Several financial issues plague the station. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a federal company responsible for doling out public TV and radio grants, has a to-do list for the station to apply for next year’s grant money.

First, several internal controls were implemented. No one from WTVP can write out checks to pay for station expenses. Checks are written by a third-party financial service and all expenses are monitored by the board’s vice chair. Additionally, the board is working on requiring at least two signatures for someone to liquidate the station’s invested assets.

The station is also going through its annual financial report because it was unclear if some reported revenues were accurate.

WTVP says it is in communication with and cooperating with Raoul’s office and the police department.

The troubles at the station were made public during a board of directors meeting in October, following the death of president and CEO Lesley Matuszak, who resigned the day before.

The station recently announced $1.5 million in budget cuts.

Nine people were also laid off.

It was also announced last month that Peoria Magazines, which the station acquired two years ago, would print its final issue this month, “for the foreseeable future.”

The possibly messy financial reporting is reflected in the latest budget numbers from the station. Overall, they are operating at a $415,000 loss for the current fiscal year. Total revenues are down by about $135,000, and expenses are up by about $100,000.

However, Barrick explained some of the revenues, like underwriting, are still down the pipeline and may yet come in. Missed expenses may also arrive late on the books.

Additionally, extra grant revenue was not reflected in the budget because some of those grants had not been applied or awarded yet.

The board meets next on Dec. 12.