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Township seeks lower prices for audit firm

February 02, 2011 - Orion Township offices may be looking to replace longtime audit firm Plante Moran in the near future.

During the Orion Township Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 18, Trustee JoAnn Van Tassel commented on her disapproval with Plante Moran's services.

"I would like to see us go out for bids," said Van Tassel. "I have not been really impressed with the job that Plante Moran has done for us, and I think that going out for bids would be in our best interest.

"I would also like to take a close look at what they're charging us for."

Alice Young also said that she was unimpressed with Plante Moran, but added that she thought it was too late begin placing bids for other audit companies so late in the township's fiscal year.

Young did mention that bids should eventually be sought at a better time.

VanTassel said that her primary issue with Plante Moran was their cost and how quickly they reported back to township offices.

"I've worked with different audit firms, and I find that I like a firm with a more proactive attitude - one that is more alert," said Van Tassel. "A comment was made to me that they were going to charge $2,500 for doing some scheduling, and little things like that are why I'm unhappy with their services.

"Right now money is tight - Orion is not unique in that regard - and we've been asking other people we contract to lower costs and I feel like we should be getting the same from the auditors."

Despite these accusations and reasons for disapproval of Plante Moran, Orion Township Supervisor Matthew Gibb wants to remain contracted to the audit firm.

"I understand that [other trustees] have concerns, but waiting until the last meeting in January to ask for bids on a new audit firm would require [township offices] to be error free," said Gibb. "I guess the question I would pose to people who want to leave Plante Moran is 'if they are doing a poor job, why did it take us 12 years to find a problem'

"The bottom line, however, is that if the board has concerns than we'll address them, and if need be go out and interview different firmest the end of July or August."

Gibb added that one advantage in staying with Plante Moran, and audit firm that knows a good amount of the township's history, is that "you don't have to reteach that history to a new firm."

During the meeting, trustee Neal Porter mentioned wanting to make the quote from Plante Moran detailing their cost FOIA-free, and not part of public information. His reason for this was to avoid audit firms being able to access the quote and under-cutting competition based on the number.

The issue will be further discussed at the next township trustee board meeting on Feb. 7.

The township's fiscal year will end in June. The township's current contract with Plante Moran costs $37,000 for the 2010 fiscal year.

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