Township taxes discovery a lesson for all boards

Careful monitoring of financial records and close scrutiny of every line item expense should be standard procedure for every person serving on a board and voting on financial expenditures.

That should be the reminder from this week’s accounts of financial woes in Alpena Township. The current board, since assuming office, has learned that since Unemployment Insurance Agency payments had not been made for part of 2014 and all of 2015 and 2016, the township now faced penalties and interest charges amounting to $13,632. And, officials await word of what the final determination will be as to what they owe to the state for withholding taxes that apparently were not paid in 2015 and 2016.

At best, the news is disappointing. At worst, it begs the question of whether this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Township officials were wise to also this week hire outside auditors to spot check financial records prior to the current administration taking office. Clerk Karie Bleau said the audit would sample from various time periods and various accounts to see whether there were any discrepancies and create a report accordingly.

The news of the financial woes has cast a somber umbrella over the entire township this week as residents try to grapple as to what this all means for them moving forward.

The township’s dilemma should serve as a sobering reminder to all government entities that strict accounting procedures, knowledge of financial filing deadlines, careful scrutiny of all expenditures and a safety check policy for those handling money not only is a good idea, it is imperative. Once again we see where transparency in government shouldn’t be a future goal, but rather a daily practice.