Source: Sherman Publications

Out of the loop
Treasurer kicked off deficit-elimination plan

by Trevor Keiser

March 23, 2011

Treasurer Curt Carson is defiant in the face of an Independence Township Board vote knocking him out of deficit-elimination planning.

“The vote has no meaning,” Carson said. “I am obligated by my oath of office to fulfill my statutory duties. On top of that, it made no sense, in light of the positive reaction we received from (state) treasury.”

The board voted 4-3, March 15, to prohibit Carson from meeting with state officials, as well as township auditing firm Plante & Moran about the new township hall or its Deficit Elimination Plan with the state.

All future efforts would be handled by Les Pulver of Plante & Moran and township Finance Director Susan Hendricks.

Carson, Supervisor David Wagner and Trustee Mark Petterson voted "no."

The majority felt Carson’s involvement was a violation of a board motion and direction provided at an earlier meeting.

At the Jan. 18 meeting, Trustee Neil Wallace moved that the board authorize Pulver to work with the state to eliminate or fix the Deficit Elimination Plan, and report back to the board as soon as possible.

After the motion was passed, 5-1, Pulver said he shouldn’t contact the state alone and suggested he work with the supervisor, treasurer, a trustee, and perhaps a state representative.

Wallace suggested Pulver work with the deputy supervisor. Supervisor Dave Wagner said “it was a good idea” and he would have the deputy supervisor call Pulver. There was no additional motion.

Carson said he is “supported by the law" and the resolution “is an intrusion” on his statutory duties.

“As treasurer, I have specific statutory duties, and investing township funds in approved investment vehicles is one of them,” he said. “This issue clearly involves investment of township funds."

Monitoring the township’s water and sewer funds and fund balance, from which the money for Township Hall was borrowed, is his responsibility, he said.

“For anyone to say that the township treasurer cannot deal with the state treasurer – it does not even make sense,” he said.

On Jan. 19, Wagner and Carson discussed the matter and decided Carson would be a better township representative than the deputy supervisor.

“When we met the next day the supervisor and I said it made no sense anyway to have the new deputy supervisor involved because he doesn’t know our (state) representative, he doesn’t know anything about the situation, about the new building (Township Hall),” Carson said. “That just didn’t make logical sense anyways.”

Carson, with the help of state Sen. Jim Marlow, drove to Lansing and met with state Treasurer Andy Dillon and his staff, along with Pulver and former Trustee Daniel Kelly.

Trustee David Lohmeier said Carson and Wagner made the wrong decision.

“I think there has been way too much grandstanding, way too much ‘let me help and save this situation,’ and what we really wanted was a technical solution. That’s why we challenged Mr. Pulver to go up and try and work it out on a working level,” Lohmeier said. “Not have a hold-hands, 'Kumbaya meeting.’ I’m sorry you don’t understand yet again why what you did was wrong, but it was.”

Wallace said he thought the (Jan 18) motion was “quite specific.”

Trustee Larry Rosso said Carson needs to follow the will of the board.

"No matter how noble some other alternative might be, we get ourselves in a lot of legal difficulty if a member of the board or one of the three administrative members of the board do something contrary to the resolution or the motion of the board,” Rosso said.

Carson said the meeting with the state was a positive one and they are currently awaiting a letter from the state that will alleviate the board’s concerns about having a deficit elimination plan in 30 days.