Traverse City Record-Eagle

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December 27, 2013

No quorum for Kalkaska controller hearing

KALKASKA — Three Kalkaska County commissioners showed up at a last-minute meeting to discuss firing the county’s controller, one short of the magic number to constitute a quorum.

It’s the second stunted attempt to oust controller Tracy Nichol. The three who showed up Monday, along with Commissioner Rodney Guy, tried to fire Nichol at a Nov. 13 meeting, but vote was deemed invalid because it was inconsistent with the county’s firing procedures.

“As a commissioner, I’m really upset that I don’t know what our county finances are and I’m really upset about our auditing report that was delayed for several months,” said Commissioner Alan Hart, who did show up Monday.

The lack of attendance puts off the issue until another time, Hart said.

Hart wouldn’t discuss the lack of a quorum at Monday’s meeting. Five of the county seven commissioners did not return a reporter’s messages on Thursday.

Commissioner Patty Cox said the meeting was called too late and at too busy a time for her to attend. She referred questions to Stuart McKinnon, the board’s chairman, about whether the absences sent a message about the issue.

McKinnon said he was surprised when commissioners called the meeting on Dec. 19.

“They’re not going through the proper channels,” said McKinnon before the meeting. “If you’re going to remove someone, you have to give notice to an employee and have documentation of what they’ve done wrong so they can explain their actions.”

Debra Kimball, Jim Mosher and Hart were in attendance Monday. They pushed for the meeting.

The county’s last two audits said discrepancies in budgetary numbers could be attributed to Nichol.

Valerie Thornburg, the county treasurer, said she believes the county failed two recent audits.

“It was mainly because the controller didn’t have her books done in time to be turned in to the auditors so the auditors could turn in the book work to the state,” Thornburg said.

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