Letter to the Editor: Reader wants city to ‘change their ways’

Dear Editor,
The Clarkston City Manager and Council Members need to change their ways to not risk the professional integrity of the new City Treasurer and the city finances.
Council has not been formally discussing and approving expenditures and amending the city’s budget prior to making expenditures, as required by the Clarkston City Charter, City Ordinances and the State of Michigan Budget Act. The City has been warned about this in the past by their auditor and the public. The Mayor spoke about the issue at a public meeting, but it seems nothing has changed.
It appears the City has spent more than $30,000 in the current budget year ending June 30 for professional and contractual services relating to the DPW building expansion proposal without proper authorization, without public bid openings and without contract approval.
It appears a similar amount or more was spent improperly in the prior budget year with no record of the expenditures, approval and payment, other than the check run which is merely the disbursement of public funds, technically requiring no approval if already authorized as a budgeted expenditure.
It is unfortunate the City Attorney defended this activity in the June 13 council meeting. The Michigan Budget Act considers the expenditure made when the services are rendered, paid or unpaid. “We haven’t written the check yet” does not excuse the City Manager or Council from their legal obligations. The City Manager thinks unethical behavior is suggested when I ask “what’s going on behind the curtain?” I am advocating for transparency. Violations of the State of Michigan Budget Act can involve the County Prosecutor and the State Attorney General.
Do not invite the new City Treasurer to perform her duties behind the curtain and compromise her professional conduct. The State of Michigan Budget Act, the City Charter and the City Ordinances all require that expenditures be reviewed and approved by council prior to the expenditure occurring. The budget and budget process must be amended to account for this expenditure.
Chet Pardee