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January 1, 2014

Kalkaska controller resigns

KALKASKA — The Kalkaska County controller submitted a resignation letter after county commissioners first tried to oust her and another time tried to discuss her future.

They voted to accept Tracy Nichol’s resignation at a meeting this week.

“She made an offer to us and we accepted it. We move forward,” Commissioner Alan Hart said.

Nichol took office in January 2012, according to a 2012 Kalkaska county audit. Her resignation, which goes into effect today, includes 90 days of severance pay and five months of health insurance, according to commissioners.

Her tenure was marked by two audits that noted discrepancies in bookkeeping.

Three commissioners tried to discuss Nichol’s future at a Dec. 23 meeting, but too few showed up to make a quorum. Commissioners who did not attend that meeting said it had been called at the last minute.

Commissioner Debra Kimball, who called the Dec. 23 meeting, said she was disappointed in how the Monday meeting went.

“We were supposed to all be together to have discussions of what our options were so everyone could be on the same page,” she said.

Instead, Kimball said discussion was limited and commissioners were only able to consider resignation and not other options.

Kimball also voiced displeasure the resignation agreement.

“For somebody you’re asking to resign, she had a lot of strong demands,” Kimball said.

Four commissioners voted to terminate Nichol on Nov. 13, but the vote was invalid because it did not follow the county’s standard firing procedures.

Some commissioners said that Nichol’s tenure was marked by accounting inconsistencies, but others defended her.

“She was being hounded, I felt, and I appreciated everything that woman has done,” Commissioner Patty Cox said. “She was darned good.”

Cox said she voted to accept the resignation because it came from Nichol, not other commissioners.

Stuart McKinnon, who chairs the Board, said he expects to have trouble finding a new controller.

“I think it’s going to be fairly tough to fill the position,” McKinnon said. “I don’t see where Tracy was doing anything wrong.”

McKinnon said Nichol was the only applicant for the position when they hired her.

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