An independent audit on Macomb Township’s purchasing policy was presented to the Board of Trustees at the Jan. 24 meeting.

An independent audit on Macomb Township’s purchasing policy was presented to the Board of Trustees at the Jan. 24 meeting.

File photo by Erin Sanchez

Board hears report from auditor on township purchasing policy

By: Joshua Gordon | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published February 14, 2018

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The Macomb Township Board of Trustees heard from an independent auditor who looked at the township’s purchasing policy and offered up solutions on improving the policy in the future.

Township Clerk Kristi Pozzi brought up the request to bring in an auditor during the Sept. 13 meeting to review the competitive bid process and purchasing policy after recent concerns over township employees not following the correct procedures.

Pozzi selected Foley & Mansfield for a fixed fee of $2,500 and the board approved the bid during the Sept. 27 meeting.

Issues around the purchasing policy came to a head when Jason Gelle, the township’s facilities and grounds manager, didn’t put a project to replace pool equipment at the cost of around $700,000 out for bid last August.

When the board asked him to go out for bid before they approved a contract, the bid ended up being about $40,000 less.

There were also a lot of questions from township officials and residents regarding the township hall’s parking lot going out for bid for asphalt replacement, yet ending up being a concrete replacement.

Pozzi said during the Jan. 24 meeting that Foley & Mansfield met with several department heads to discuss the competitive bid process, compliance and procedures over a two-month period.

“My belief is this report will shed some light on issues and procedures that have been overlooked in the past and will provide opportunity to make changes and to improve the purchasing process going forward,” Pozzi said.

Greg Meihn, with Foley & Mansfield, said the Jan. 24 report was only the start of the next phase of the process, as he hopes to meet in more detail with the trustees and offer assistance in improving the purchasing policy.

One of the first things he pointed out was that the purchasing policy has not been updated or renewed since 2015, therefore it is missing best practices that have been established around the area in the past two and a half years.

“There are better ways to do things, easier ways to do so,” Meihn said. “There is intense scrutiny on townships and cities in regards to handling business, monies and motions. The pressure put on boards in terms of legal requirements increase day by day, month by month and year by year as more statutes come up for transparency.”

Meihn said he interviewed a dozen department heads and reviewed all the board minutes from June 2016 up to the present, as well as any requests for proposals that were available online. He said he did not find any evidence of committing fraud, but said the biggest issue is employees weren’t 100 percent certain if they were following the policy correctly.

Moving forward, Meihn said he would like the policy to be updated and broken down by department, as some departments, such as engineering and water and sewer, have to do things differently than other departments.

“You have good people wanting to work and people trying to do the best they can, but they are somewhat confused on what they can or cannot do,” Meihn said. “Ultimately, you should sit down with each individual department head and create policies and procedures structured to how each department operates. Ask what they are doing and how they are working and memorialize that in writing.”

In the recommendations section of the report, Foley & Mansfield also suggested the board adopt the best practices in regards to reporting conflicts of interest. Meihn said a lot of boards often have a section of the meeting where anyone can comment on potential conflicts of interest for each meeting.

Along with not going out for bid, several residents had concerns about the pool equipment, as they felt the company selected presented a conflict of interest with a township employee’s husband working for the company.

“There has been a big push on conflict of issue documentation in each department and for each bid,” Meihn said. “The goal is to always give the opportunity to demonstrate whether or not there is a conflict of interest.”