Council receives good news on audit after hiring new treasurer

Dennis Mansfield, Contributing Writer

KALKASKA – After receiving its annual audit report, officials of the Village of Kalkaska hope they can finally put the past behind them and move forward from previous controversies.

Council members received a presentation on the village’s 2019 audit from representatives of Gambridge and Company, a Grand Rapids-based financial firm.

According to the presentation, the village received a “clean” opinion, reportedly the highest level the auditing firm could provide.

“I was very pleased with the outcome of the audit,” said Kalkaska Village President Harley Wales. “It was reassuring and will assist us to navigate the direction the village needs to go with its financial future.”

While the report was clean, the financial year of 2018-19, which ended on Feb. 28, had its ups and downs.

That included the council voting to terminate its previous treasurer, Jennifer Standerfer, by a 4-2 vote in November 2018. Standerfer had served as treasurer for eight years.

But, in late 2017, she found herself at odds with the village manager, Scott Yost, and former village president Jeff Sieting, who suspended Standerfer for insubordination.

After being suspended, Standerfer issued a five-page letter that triggered a nearly $14,000 ethics investigation into alleged violations. However, a Traverse City attorney charged with conducting the investigation found that 12 of the 13 charges made by Standerfer were without finding or could not be substantiated.

The council filled the vacancy left by Standerfer’s termination when it hired Valerie Tracey, who had been serving in an interim role, as the village’s new treasurer by a unanimous vote in April. 

The village also hired the Cadillac-based firm of Baird, Cotter and Bishop to review its financial reports.

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