December 12, 2012 - It won't be quite as easy for the Independence Township treasurer to spend large sums of money anymore.
At the Dec. 4 Board of Trustees meeting, Treasurer Paul Brown requested permission to develop a policy of internal cash controls, which the board granted with a 7-0 vote.
Currently, the treasurer could "wire up to $8,400,000 to depositories of my choosing with the only additional authentication being a telephone confirmation directed to the treasurer's assistant who confirms the request at my direction," Brown explained.
He referred to instances of embezzlement in other Michigan townships as reason to add safeguards to the current township policy.
"I have no reason to believe or suspect there's been any misappropriation, but I believe the best defense against those things is to have ultra-conservative control policies in place," said Brown. "Prevention is what we want to have."
To avert potential embezzlement or other wrongdoing, the treasurer, along with Finance Director Susan Hendricks, will create an internal cash control policy intended to prevent township officials from wiring large sums without oversight.
Brown notes any check the township writes requires two signatures, and this new policy would bring larger amounts up to the same standard.
The cash control policy coming down the pipe would require the Finance Department to initiate any movement of township funds. In addition, all transfers would need the authorization of the clerk or deputy clerk and the treasurer or deputy treasurer.
Brown's internal cash control policy idea was popular with board members.
"We hold the public trust," Trustee Andrea Schroeder emphasized. "I whole-heartedly support this kind of an effort."
Clerk Barb Pallotta agreed.
"To have policies in place is something we owe our employees and the people who put us in these chairs tonight," Pallotta added.
"This is just the beginning of partnering with departments and making sure the checks and balances are in place. It's been absent for quite some time," she said.
"We're adding in a layer of double check, which I really like," said Trustee David Lohmeier.
The treasurer and finance director were directed to come back to the board with a draft of the new policy by Jan. 31. The board of trustees will hold their next meeting on Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the township hall on Waldon Road.
Clarkston News reporter