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Books don't balance - auditor hired

October 13, 2010 - With finance director out sick, Independence Township board authorized Clerk Shelagh VanderVeen to bring in auditors Plante & Moran "to assist in finance functions of the township for the next month at cost not to exceed $2,500."

Trustee David Lohmeier has been asking for a status update on a number of deficiencies found in the 2009 Audit. Though he has received some answers, he is still not satisfied, he said.

"This is unacceptable, to be sitting here in September and not have reconciled material deficiencies in our '09 audit," he said. "We're almost ready for our next run."

VanderVeen informed the board at the Oct. 5 board meeting that Finance Director Susan Hendricks is ill and will goto the hospital for surgery and could be out few weeks.

"I think this is a good time to discuss this," VanderVeen said. "I think we've got to the point where there is so many demands put on my office that it's become pretty untenable. Currently, we're having an election by the way. We're working on balancing the taxes, still haven't gotten that done. We're working with the task force. We have our day to day operations which have to be done (such as) paying our bills."

VanderVeen said "no one can report to seven bosses" and suggested it would make things easier if the board only gave direction through motions and resolutions.

"I would suggest, if questions need to be answered, if you want information, you do it in the form of a motion, a second and a majority vote that way we can direct our employees exactly what needs to be done," she said. "There will be one voice."

Lohmeier was willing to cooperate, but noted he had tried not to go around, but to go through management for his requests, which have been the same requests since May.

According to the 2009 audit, while testing cash bank reconciliations, Plante Moran noted an un-reconciled 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.

Lohmeier said the Supervisor's budget was over by $11,000 in professional services, which was for architect plans for a new police station.

But after some digging by Hendricks, it was found that the payments were not made, so the money was still there, but they don't know what account it should be in.

More concerning to Lohmeier, he said is the Sheriff's budget, which he said is $350,000 less than what they budgeted. Lohmeier said they lost revenue by not collecting from DTE Theater, but they were also over in expenses as well.

He said between Jan and Aug. 31, they took in a $1million in revenue, and spent $2.6 million.

"We spent $930,000 more than we made. We should have reduced our fund balance in the Sheriff's department to negative $500,000. Somewhere between May and Aug we ran out of money in that fund. That shouldn't be able to happen," he said. "We should have had a motion of which fund are we transferring money from."

Lohmeier said he wasn't looking to put on staff, but if they needed to hire someone to come in and fix the problems he was willing to do so.

VanderVeen said they are short staffed and could use someone, especially while Hendricks is out.

"I rely on Susan for other things, too," VanderVeen said. "She helps me during the elections with balancing our ballots, throughout the day she's there helping, but I don't even like to ask her these things anymore because I know she's doing so many different projects at one time."

Lohmeier said they're trying to lock in their 2011 budget on "unreliable data" and they "got to have level ground."

"We can't be waiting six months for this, I have no faith at all that we know what these fund balances are," he said. "There is no excuse for that. That's what we're ultimately responsible for here. The good stewardship of this money."

Treasurer Curt Carson agreed.

"I reviewed the payments we've made to date," Carson said. "If they continue at the pace that they're going we're going to be in trouble."

Supervisor Dave Wagner will also be out for a few weeks after undergoing a recent surgery.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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