February 26, 2014 - By Meg Peters
Review Staff Writer
Since the beginning of 2013 certain community members and Orion Township trustees have questioned the efforts of the Orion Township Treasurer Mark Thurber saying he is rarely in his office and is not adequately supplying township financial reports.
"The quarterly reports are never complete. They are never done on time, and that is something I can see. I have a paper trail of his reports," Trustee Donni Steele said.
Since he was sworn in as treasurer November 20, 2012, Thurber has delivered a treasurer's report on April 15, 2013, July 1, 2013, October 21, 2013 and February 18, 2014.
"I have the quarterly reports, and I deliver the quarterly reports, but they're not in a form that they understand. Or they're not getting it exactly the way they want it," Thurber said. "I can't tell you the number of times I've offered invitations at the board meetings saying please, come in and see me. Tell me what you want exactly. They won't tell me what the form is," he said.
Thurber said he was going to try and deliver reports more according to how trustees have voiced they want them, and revert back to previous formats past township treasurer's have used.
At the February 18 meeting Trustee Neil Porter said there are three things that he wants in each report: what investments have matured, what investments made a return, and where all the investments are at.
He asked nearly the same question at the October 21, 2013 meeting. "What investments have matured. Have you renewed them or let them die?" he asked Thurber. "I don't think the report is complete I can't read all of this, and I will be voting no," he concluded.
Porter voted against the board receiving and filing the PowerPoint report at that meeting in October. The vote passed 5-2, with Steele also opposing.
Trustees did not receive hard copies of the report, which Thurber had intended to send via email.
Thurber said Steele was "grandstanding" at the February 3, 2014 meeting when she said some elected officials didn't deserve a raise.
"With all due respect, the treasurer, here we are in the first quarter and we haven't received the treasurer reports from the last quarter," Steele said.
Trustee Neil Porter agreed at the Feb. 3 meeting.
"I showed up at the treasurer's office and specifically asked for the investment report. I was told I would be emailed it, and didn't receive it in my email. So I don't have the previous report that was supposedly done. I'm way behind on finding out where our money is," Porter said.
Thurber said he delivers his reports within the window of every quarter after he receives all of the bank statements.
The previous township treasurer Alice Young concurred that sometimes bank statements are not timely.
"Sometimes you couldn't get them done the very next month because the meetings are every other week. So usually it was the first meeting of the second month after the quarter to allow time for bank statements," she said.
Young delivered her 2012 quarterly reports on February 6, 2012, May 7, 2012, July 2, 2012 and October 29, 2012. She also delivered an investment report on October 1, 2012.
Young also addressed Thurber at the July 1, 2013 to dispel rumors that alleged she had left Thurber no direction when he took his elected position.
Young stated she had left him eight years of hard copies of financial reports and investment reports, including computer templates of her work. She also explained he was to make quarterly financial reports and an investment report every time he made an investment transaction.
Thurber said he has not made a report every time for every investment transaction, but that he believed he was still adhering to the township investment policy.
Complaints stretch further back with other community members.
From the February 19, 2013 meeting, Orion Township resident Mary McMaster directed her public comment towards Thurber.
"Due to the concerns being discussed by the members of this community as to your overt absences, I have taken it upon myself to address and present those concerns," she said. "Why is your office all too often dark, and therefore we find that you are not in your office on a regular routine basis?"
In a statement addressing many of these concerns February 18, 2014, Thurber pointed out he was no longer positioned in the old treasurer's room, which is now a storage room.
"I've been puzzled by it, except I had an exchange with a resident who continued on this, and then he told me you're never in the old treasurers office," Thurber said. "I moved into this office over a year ago. So everybody has been looking for me over there. They'll look in the window. They will look around the corner. I was shocked to think that it would be something as simple as people looking in the wrong room," Thurber said.
Although he has many meetings throughout the day on subcommittees or with banks, Thurber said he is in the office from around 7:30 a.m. until around 5 p.m., which could be around 30 hours a week of actually sitting in the office he said, depending on his schedule.
He said he also is an investor and owns pieces of several companies, including a gun-holster company among others he said, stressing that none of them interfere with township business in any way.