Clerk Gleason proceeds with ROD audit

GENESEE COUNTY — Genesee County Clerk John Gleason believes the county Board of Commissioners (BOC) is misusing the technology fund and is proceeding to pay for an audit of the fund to prove it.

Five dollars of every deed registered is to go to the fund, in order to pay for the latest technology for the public to be able to access documents in the Register of Deeds office, but the money is not there.

Gleason and Register of Deeds (ROD) Roberta Sacharski have proceeded to hire an independent auditing firm Gabridge and Co. out of Grand Rapids to audit one budget year (2013-14) to detail his accusations that funds are inappropriately managed.

County Commission Chair Janie W. Curtis says this is not necessary and this is merely an accounting procedure dispute, adding if Gleason has his way, there will be a layoff of approximately 1.5 personnel who are being paid for out of the fund.

According to Genesee County Corporate Counsel Andrew C. Thompson, who wrote in a memorandum to Gleason on April 6, personnel costs are authorized to be paid from the fund. Gleason disputes that he hasn’t authorized it and it’s under his budgetary domain.

Gleason stated he has requested the BOC address the issues, both in person and in writing and had been at best dismissed and ignored. Curtis indicates that although an annual audit of each department should be standard, it is very problematic.

“It wouldn’t do anything…there is no criminal wrong doing,” Curtis said. Despite that he states a ‘cease and desist’ letter received from Gleason will be acted upon by the next meeting of the Public Works committee on July 27 —and this will initiate the collective bargaining process for the person being paid out of that fund.

Gleason indicated personnel have been inappropriately paid out of the fund at least since 2005, citing a letter from former Genesee County ROD Melvin P. McCree which authorized the use of the monies for salaries but he wants it stopped.

Sacharski was asked if this letter authorized the expenditures, could she not correct the unapproved expenses by a similar letter, such as the Cease and Desist order she already sent. She indicated they had no “intent or desire to lay off any employee”, but to “have them properly paid from legal sources,” but didn’t expound on any possible future actions as a result of the audit or the committee meeting.

Gleason said the county has also falsely submitted an accurate CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report), an annual accounting document sent to the State of Michigan, because it includes an inaccurate organizational chart showing the Board of Canvassers being under the Land Deeds office, versus the County Clerk’s office where they should be.

Upon making inquiries to correct the chart, he was advised by a staff member via email that the chart cannot be changed for two reasons, one it has to be done by a person with the proper knowledge of the county organization and two, “…it is a PDF format. No one knows what program was used…to create it.

Gleason found this answer disturbing in that the CAFR is a public assurance that things are “being done properly.” Gleason initially called several years of audit of the ROD in May.

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