BY BRIAN McGILLIVARY
— TRAVERSE CITY — Acme Township officials are baffled over an accounting discrepancy that temporarily erased almost $700,000 from the township’s general fund.
Treasurer Connie Collett reported in early October that the township had about $634,000 in the bank at the end of August, but only about $20,000 in its general fund to pay bills. The rest was committed or assigned to other uses. Collett’s report for July showed the township maintained a fund balance of over $1.3 million.
Township board members have not been able to resolve the matter because Collett missed the last two board meetings. She notified board members before their Tuesday meeting that she was taking a six-week medical leave of absence.
“We have an accountant, and we have indications it’s just an error on the form,” said Acme Supervisor Jay Zollinger. “We now have a September report that shows we have quite a bit of money.”
The September treasurer’s report shows a fund balance of almost $1.2 million but lack of information from Collett didn’t sit well with trustees.
Township resident Charlene Abernethy attended all three meeting and described the two October meetings as “mass confusion” over the treasurer’s report.
“That was a pretty hostile place, to put it mildly,” Abernethy said. “All this finger-pointing.”
Zollinger said concerns were raised when Collett didn’t show at the special meeting because attendees wanted answers and they didn’t know then about her medical problems.
“We are always worried about something that comes with financials; the township would be foolish not to be,” Zollinger said. “It’s unfortunate that these kinds of things happen, but they do once in a while.”
Abernethy said the issue remains confusing to her because she had the sense that board members resolved the discrepancy on Tuesday, thought they didn’t really address it.
Acme Trustee Paul Scott said board members received the September report that showed their balance flush again, but chose not to discuss it until Collett was able to explain it.
“No one wants to speak for her how it happened,” Scott said.
Instead, their focus shifted to who would mail property tax bills with Collett on leave. Tax bills need to go out by Dec. 31, but the traditional target date is Dec. 1.
Zollinger said he met with deputy treasurer Karen Jennings and she will assume Collett’s duties. The township also will hire a temporary worker to assist Jennings.