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Ingham County treasurer being blamed, again, for poor accounting

Aug 22, 2017

Ingham County is continuing to have bookkeeping problems with its treasurer.

Until recently, Treasurer Eric Schertzing had been writing checks the county had no record of. According to county Commissioner Mark Grebner, it wasn’t until a contractor tried to collect money he was owed by the county that questions were raised, and it was discovered a relatively small Community Development Block Grant program was being administered by the treasurer’s office through handwritten checks signed by Schertzing.

The county’s general ledger hadn’t shown any payments from the Community Development Block Grant in question since January 2015. According to Ingham County Controller Tim Dolehanty, Scherzting had been issuing payments from the program using hand-written checks from a “separate checkbook.”

Grebner says this latest example is the type of problem caused by poor record-keeping that has plagued the treasurer’s office in recent years. Grebner says several consecutive audits have blamed the treasurer’s office for a lack of oversight and office mismanagement.

“[Schertzing] is a decent and kindly person, and he has a nice smile and we like him,” Grebner said. “But the board is getting a little bit frustrated. He’s kind of wearing our patience.”

The Lansing State Journal reports accounting mistakes from the treasurer’s office and the Ingham County Land Bank contributed more than $50,000 in additional auditing fees from the firm Plante Moran. Schertzing is also chair of the Ingham County Land Bank.

Grebner says the county has tried to work with Schertzing’s office to cut down on mistakes, to no avail.

“We’ve gone through all the stages that you would expect about encouraging cooperation, better communication and teamwork, working harder and sending people off to training, and none of that has helped,” Grebner said.

The Board of Commissioners meets tonight, and commissioners are expect to require Schertzing to report any other financial activity the county doesn’t have official records of. Grebner says changes to the duties and staff of the treasurer’s office are currently being considered at the committee level.