Former treasurer sues village over firing

Dennis Mansfield, Contributing Writer

KALKASKA – Jennifer Standerfer is no longer the treasurer for the Village of Kalkaska. But, she could still have a big impact on village finances after recently filing a lawsuit against the village in the 46th Circuit Court.

After serving as the village treasurer for eight years, Standerfer was fired last November by a 4-2 split vote of the Kalkaska Village Council during a public meeting.

Trustee Tim Ellis made the motion to terminate Standerfer, citing that she had failed to sign a proposed work agreement, nor modified her work schedule to fit the terms of the proposal. Those conditions included requiring Standerfer, who had been allowed to work at home, to be at the Kalkaska Village Offices from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Standerfer was also directed to have any employment outside the village office approved by the village manager, Scott Yost. She reportedly runs a tax service out of her home.

“It hasn’t happened,” Ellis said of the proposed changes at the November meeting. “That has not been done.”

In her defense, Standerfer said she didn’t know there was any deadline to sign the agreement and believed various details were yet to be fully negotiated.

Now, the dispute between Standerfer and her former employers will be debated between attorneys and possibly in court.

According to reports, Standerfer’s lawsuit alleges the village violated Michigan’s Whistleblowers Act, failed to produce personnel records and was in breach of implied contract, as well as breach of contract, by firing her. Standerfer is seeking damages in excess of $25,000.

Previously, Standerfer stated that her battle was against the conditions contained within the proposed work agreement which she viewed as a form of retribution for allegations she made against former Village President Jeff Sieting, Yost and former Kalkaska Department of Public Safety Lt. Glenn Artress.

After being suspended in December 2017 by Sieting, 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.

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