Source: Sherman Publications

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State review OKd

by Trevor Keiser

August 24, 2011

After paying $1,000 to hire an outside inspector to audit the building director, Independence Township is now bringing in the state.

Township Clerk Barbra Pallotta said Gary Shripka, who did the audit on Belcher, recommended state review.

"He suggested we bring in the state of Michigan to do a performance evaluation," she said. "There is no cost at all to the township for that."

The board vote 3-2 to approve state review. Treasurer Curt Carson and Trustee Mark Petterson voted "no." Supervisor Dave Wagner and Trustee David Lohmeier were absent.

State review involves a team of three in a one-day visit. One person reviews files and the other two accompany the inspector to building sites. The state will then provide a written recommendation, and the board can have the state come and review implementation of the recommendations.

"My feeling is there is always room for improvement," Pallotta said. "Especially because now we're working under minimum staffing and we want to improve it."

Shripka's biggest observation in his report was "lack of documentation."

Trustee Neil Wallace felt Shripka's report was "very level, very objective."

"Although I've never met him, I felt a sense of trust coming out of that. In particular because he's the one who recommended that we look to the state," Wallace said. "It was clear he wasn't trying to glom onto the situation and make more of it for himself than what it was."

Pallotta also noted she and Carson met with Building Director Dave Belcher and he agreed with the state coming in. While Carson supports both the efforts of Pallotta and Belcher to strengthen the department, he could not support the state coming in.

"I believe things are moving in a very positive direction as they are," Carson said. "It does take up state taxpayer resources even though it doesn't cost our township anything specifically."

Petterson voted against the motion because the state reviewed the township in 2008.

"I was told the nearest one was done in 2000, I was lied to in a report I paid for," Petterson said. "Once you lie to me you're on my ... list."