[Updated] On Friday, former Shiawassee County Administrator, T. J. Clark checked into the Lapeer County Jail where he will serve 30 days for “using public money for personal use, contrary to state law.”
The question is, will those who were in charge of his spending be held accountable? Has the county made changes to how they regulate the spending of “Special Revenue” funds to prevent appointed officials from writing blank checks for whatever they’d like? Has the County made any efforts to spending from these funds more transparent? I think you’ll find that the answer to all of these questions is “no”.
There are funds missing from this years budget that we voted to approve last year. The county is looking to more than double what we are paying for E911 charges on our cell phone bills, and yet all accounting of what these funds are being used for are hidden from residents. Look at page 18 (special revenue funds) of the 2016 adopted budget budget (page 21 of the pdf), then ask your commissioner these questions:
- Who approves how this money is spent?
- Are the same people who write the checks, also approving the spending?
- Who audits this spending?
- How can I see how my money is being spent?
- Are you taking taking back the county’s current contribution to these services and using it for something else?
- Who makes sure that my money is being spent wisely?
- What is the treasurers role in ensuring that our tax dollars are spent wisely? (Hint: He doesn’t have one.)
I don’t think you’re going to like the answers. When I asked last year, I didn’t like the answers.
I believe that T. J. is just the tip of the iceburg, and hope that our county makes changes to these special revenue funds to encourage transparency and checks and balances. Unfortunately doing this would open them up to a lot of well deserved scrutiny. As taxpayers we should know what every cent of our money is being spent on regardless of which fund it comes from.
I’ve contacted Hartmann Aue asking him for more visibility/transparency into these funds as well as for information on the “missing millage” and will update this post when I hear back.