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DDA votes to pay $166K debt to village

June 27, 2012 - The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has settled its large debt to the Oxford Village government.

Last week, the DDA board voted 7-0 to withdraw $165,934 from its investments through Oakland County in order to pay the village for invoices from the 2010-11 fiscal year.

"Aside from a few bills, we believe we've come to a conclusion and to an agreement on most of it," said DDA Treasurer Ed Hunwick.

Of the total, $145,829 were bills the village automatically paid on the DDA's behalf, but which did not appear on any DDA bill runs, therefore they were never individually approved for payment by the DDA board.

The remaining $20,105 were invoices that did appear on DDA bill runs for approval, but the village never transferred the money from the DDA's bank account to reimburse itself.

"We authorized payment for a lot of these invoices that the village has presented," Hunwick said. "What the village didn't do is take the money."

"If it is discovered some invoices presented for payment are not valid for reimbursement (ex. they may have already been paid and mis-posted in another line item), then the village will reimburse these amounts back to the DDA," noted DDA Director Madonna Van Fossen in a memo to the board.

Bills included insurance payments, Van Fossen's salary, phone service, payroll, newspaper advertising, village police services, credit cards, auditing services, entertainment for events, etc.

DDA board member Anna Taylor noted procedures have been put in place to ensure this kind of situation doesn't repeat itself.

For example, both Van Fossen and village Manager Joe Young must now sign off when invoices are submitted, received and checks are cut, according to Taylor.

Hunwick explained that beginning July 1, which is the start of the village and DDA's new fiscal year, "all monthly (financial) obligations that are routine," such as phone bills and Van Fossen's salary, will be posted and the cash transferred by the village from the DDA's account on a "timely basis" every month, "so we have no surprises."

"I don't expect going foward – as long as I'm doing this – that we would have a surprise of additional monies (being) needed," he said. "What we (the DDA board) approve is what's going to be withdrawn from our bank account. Everything we approve, it should be gospel going forward. The village shouldn't be providing us with (invoices that) we haven't been made aware of."

"We have redefined our processes," noted DDA Chairman Don Sherman. "If you have a good process in place, then these are the kinds of things that should happen on a routine basis."

With regard to how it got to the point where the DDA owed the village $165,934, Sherman said, "I think we all accepted and I think we all are willing to accept a little bit of a share of the accountability for where we were."

"I think we need to kind of put that behind us and move forward with a new vision and a new direction," he said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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