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Letter to the editor

Reader sees pattern

September 22, 2010 - Dear Editor,

Excerpts from previous editions of Clarkston News:

Regarding a sewer rate increase in an article dated July 22, 2009: "Director of Public Works Linda Richardson … said she made a miscalculation when converting the cost from flow base to Residential Equivalent Unit and only passed on one-third of the cost."

Regarding the new township hall in an article dated July 29, 2009: "'Just as a lesson – we need to slow down the voting part,' said Clerk Shelagh VanderVeen. 'Maybe do a little less of the discussion part so we all understand what's in front of us and how we're voting.' VanderVeen, who admitted she was 'ashamed to say' she didn't know what she was voting on, joined the rest of the Independence Township Board in rescinding an extra $40,000 budget adjustment."

Regarding checks written to an architectural firm for Sheriff substation blueprints in an article dated August 12, 2009: "Trustee David Lohmeier questioned Finance Director Susan Hendricks about the payments … asked what account it came out of and … she said it came out of the board's budget…". "Lohmeier … asked why and she said 'that's what I was directed to do.'"

Regarding the PEG fees from Comcast in an article dated August 19, 2009: "'Of the 10 to 12 municipalities our firm represents, Independence Township is the only one in this situation because under your expired franchise with Comcast, you didn't receive any PEG fees, the township has never gotten anything from their cable provider,' said Kristin Kolb, attorney with Secrest and Wardle law firm. 'All the other communities we represent have always gotten something.'"

Regarding the township budget in an article dated June 2, 2010: "'I just budgeted the amount I was told,' said Independence Finance Director Susan Hendricks referring to the healthcare adjustment of $271,000 to be made."

Regarding a Plante & Moran audit of the township's finances in an article dated July 28, 2010: "'We're having some trouble reconciling our checkbook, we didn't realize we had the trouble, which is another strike against us and we really don't have a plan of how we're going to fix it,' Lohmeier said at the July 20 township board meeting." "According to the 2009 audit … Plante Moran noted an unreconciled difference of approximately $11,000 as well as a reconciling item of approximately $150,000 for which management (the township) was unable to provide supporting detail." "Auditors also noted under internal control 'material weaknesses', the general fund was $116,000 higher than ledgers indicated. Finance director identified $100,000 of it, but $16,000 remains unidentified. Auditors also found the general fund's accounts payable account was $21,000 higher than reported."

Does anyone see an unsettling pattern here? Can it be attributed to lack of knowledge, lack of skills or lack of caring?

Lawrence Matta

Independence Township

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