Board says no to public posting of township bills

FLINT TWP. — In the interest of transparency and accountability, Township Treasurer Lisa Anderson proposed publicly posting monthly township’s bills but the majority of the board disagreed with her.

The township board defeated Anderson’s proposal in a fourthree vote with Anderson and Trustees Frank Kasle and Carol Pfaff-Dahl voting in favor and Township Supervisor Karyn Miller, Clerk Kathy Funk and Trustees Barb Vert and Tom Klee voting no.

Reasons given in a lengthy discussion before the vote included that the bills sometimes contain personal information such as employee medical payments or drug testing.

Klee asked for clarification on whether the posting would include everything.

Anderson said that personal information could be omitted but the posting would show items such as Consumer Energy bills, the cost of fire truck parts or police vehicle decals, toilet paper and everything else the township spends money on.

Vert said her objection was based on confidentiality concerns.

“I don’t want people to know if I had (medical) labs done,” she said.

Miller also recalled a time, when first joining the board, finding out though the bills about an employee on medication.

Anderson responded that no one should have access to that information and that changes should be made in the accounting department to separate confidential information from the rest of the bills.

Funk said that in the five years she worked in the clerk’s office prior to being elected clerk last November, no resident ever came in asking to see a copy of the bills. Some billings are made available at the township office a week before the board meeting but any information can be requested under the Freedom of Information Act, she said.

“I think this issue is being overblown,” she said.

Funk also said that by law the township is not required to provide an agenda which in May, thanks to updated software, is ow being posted with background information, on the township That is being done in the interest of transparency, she said of the publicly accessible board packets.

Anderson said her intent is to inform the public of how township money is spent. She said that the idea stemmed from her recent treasurer’s trainings with the Michigan Township Association and other training. She said she was only asking to include the list of monthly bills in the board packet, not details.

Miller said that the board already practices transparency by videotaping its meetings that is posted online and televised on Channel 17. She also said that township audits and budgets are posted on the township website.

“I think we are very transparent,’’ she said.

Pfaff-Dahl asked if posting the billing would be breaking any laws.

Kasle, who voted in favor of Anderson’s proposal, said it was about “a sheet of paper” listing monthly bills to be included in the now public board packet. It is not about posting confidential medical records or personal information, he said.

Anderson broached the subject at a previous board meeting. Her motion to add it to the board’s agenda also was defeated four to three, with board members voting then the same way as this time.

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