By Pat Maurer
Despite rumors of misappropriation of Hayes Township funds and calls for criminal action, both the Supervisor and Treasurer believe it was just a “clerical error.”
The Hayes Township board discovered the discrepancy back in April, after making a decision to eliminate a “stipend” payment to board members instead of insurance coverage earlier in the year.
A payroll audit was ordered by the board, and resulted in the discovery of a duplicate annual 25 cent per hour wage increase given to Deputy Treasurer Anna Breese retroactive to 2002.
She started working at the township in 1999 and was made Deputy Treasurer under Elizabeth Wilson.
The Township Clerk Kevin Breece made a mistake, Treasurer Maye Tessner-Rood said Monday. “He said ‘I didn’t know my job as well as I should have’.”
At that time, Rood said, “Kevin made a statement to the public regarding the issue and said he would pay any money back that was an overpayment and would reimburse the township for the cost of the payroll audit.”
“He is an honorable man,” said Supervisor Dr. Ray Augenstein. “He didn’t have to, but he offered to pay back the extra funds and reimburse the township for the cost of the audit that found the mistake.”
Augenstein said that he had made a motion that Kevin Breese would not have to pay for the audit. “This was an honest mistake,” Augenstein said. “There was no criminal intent. All the money has been returned even though it didn’t have to be.”
Treasurer Rood said, “After our July 16 meeting, he (Breese) kept his word and has reimbursed the township for the overpayment to Anna and for the audit.”
Breese paid the township $4,528.94 for his wife’s overpayment and insurance reimbursement, Colleen Litke’s insurance reimbursement, Social Security Taxes, Medicare payment and the pension match. He also paid $7,060 for the cost of the audit.
In March, Kevin Breese told the board a pay history on employee wages showed that some COLA (Cost of Living increases) supposed to be granted each January, were missed. A motion was passed to make the increases (25 cents per hour) retroactive to 2006 and another approved a payment totaling $1,985.82 to Anna Breese for missed COLA increases in in 2002 and 2003.
At a special meeting April 1, Rood said she had started a payroll review. She reported the discovery of a retro payment and two cost of living adjustments of 25 cents per hour for Anna Breese, and said that the report made by Kevin Breese was in error. At that meeting the board ordered an audit to discover the extent of the error.
The second COLA increase in 2003 to Anna Breese was also questioned because she had recently received a $1 per hour increase. The question that came up is whether that $1 increase included the annual merit raise of 25 cents per hour or not.
The audit by Yeo & Yeo of Saginaw discovered discrepancies in three other employees’ wage payments, one who was paid slightly less and two that received slightly more than they should have because of incorrect data entries.
The company recommended that pay rates be changed as soon as they take effect and not manually entered to prevent further errors and that employees receive more training.
Supervisor Ray Augenstein and Clerk Kevin Breese have both submitted resignations to the board. Augenstein cited health and personal business reasons for his resignation. His resignation will take effect August 10. Breese resigned effective August 24.
Anna Breese resigned as Deputy Treasurer April 6.