BY BENJAMIN J. GOHS & CHRIS FAULKNOR
The Village of Boyne Falls Treasurer said she’ll be stepping down this summer, but a potential replacement apparently wants a forensic audit of the municipality’s books before taking over duties.
Debra Taylor, who currently acts as both the Village of Boyne Falls clerk and treasurer, made the announcement at the village council’s regular Tuesday May 8 meeting.
“I’m done June 1 … as the treasurer,” said Taylor, who has been at the center of the village’s handling of certain issues, including misuse of village resources and questionable accounting practices.
The trouble with Taylor began when it was discovered she took village gravel to use for her home driveway. How and when she paid for the gravel also raised questions.
The matter of her quitting came up during discussion of a potential replacement’s duties.
Village of Boyne Falls Council Trustee Gladys “Joann” Bell said she wanted to make sure the new treasurer didn’t have to collect water bills since the clerk should be doing that.
“Ever since we had the water department, the clerk has always collected the water bills (and) she gives the treasurer the money,” said Bell, who has previously expressed concern over Taylor’s practice of giving her dozens of blank checks to sign all at once.
Taylor asked how the treasurer is supposed to know if the amount collected is correct.
“She’s just got to take your word for it,” Bell said. “If you’re honest and she takes the money, she figures that you’ve done it.”
While discussing hiring of general laborers and the potential new treasurer, Boyne Falls Village Council Member Greg Fosler expressed concern, saying, “There’s no process to go through for hiring someone?”
Boyne Falls Village President Bill Carson said “no.”
“Also, I guess (candidate) is really interested in the treasurer’s position but she wants an audit,” Carson said.
Boyne Falls Village Councilman Mike Kondrat said the candidate wants a forensic audit to determine the status of the village’s finances.
“We’re not gonna do a forensic audit,” Carson said. “Our regular audit’s next year… She’s (a new treasurer) not responsible for anything back before she starts anyway.”
Bell added, “What’s she (candidate) think, we’re all crooked or something?”
Kondrat responded, “Not we all.”
He added, “With that said, it’s been four or five months now we’ve been talking about putting it in the paper and it never went in the paper yet so there’s no active looking for (new treasurer). Where is it advertised other than the post office?”
Carson said he would talk with the candidate to see if she is still interested.
Kondrat also expressed concerns that letters from the village’s attorney, and other officials, which are addressed to the council are not being shared with the council.
“I don’t know why we don’t get information that’s addressed to the council members,” he said.
The village, which has a history of dubious operating practices, was most recently admonished by the Charlevoix County Prosecutor for its botched handling of a closed meeting.
The council ended its regular meeting then inexplicably reopened the meeting to discuss the four-page letter from the prosecutor, dated Friday April 30, which outlined the council’s Michigan Open Meetings violations and advised members to undergo training to ensure best practices.
Carson said he made a “simple mistake” in how the closed session was entered into.
He then read from the closing of the letter, the entirety of which the Boyne City Gazette has previously published and can be viewed online.