Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Late bill rationale disputed

Deerfield administrator chimes in

By Erica Solvig
Enquirer staff writer

DEERFIELD TWP. - Township Administrator Greg Horwedel has issued a report saying he will "respectfully disagree" with Clerk Kristin Spiekerman's explanation that bills were paid late because township staffers didn't get them to her on time.

Horwedel's 81-page report, filled mostly with copies of bills, states that - despite Spiekerman's statements - bills were turned in to a clerk's office assistant by the July 13 deadline so they could be approved for payment at the July 20 trustees meeting. Spiekerman had argued at the meeting that because staffers were late in getting the necessary paperwork to her, she was concerned at least one bill "may not make it" by the due date.

"The primary question I have here is why late fees weren't routinely flagged for investigation and follow-up acts," Horwedel wrote in the report.

"I believe all administrative staff who process bills are clearly aware of my desire to see any late fees. I do not know how Clerk Spiekerman treated late fees prior to these last few months."

Spiekerman declined comment Monday, saying she would issue a full report at the next trustees meeting.

Bills get mailed to the various township departments, which are responsible for turning them in to Spiekerman's office. The clerk's staff then gets together the necessary paperwork and brings the checks to the trustees for approval.

Late bill payment has come up at several township meetings in the last few weeks. An Enquirer analysis of 2003 records showed that the township paid late fees nearly every month, mainly because of late utility bills. The township paid nearly $1,100 in late fees last year.

While Horwedel makes it clear in his report that the clerk's duties are separate from the administration's, his report suggests tracking systems to assure that staff is receiving and submitting bills and invoices properly.


E-mail esolvig@enquirer.com

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