Did Plymouth Township Falsify Documents To The Michigan Department Of Treasury?

I am going to state the facts, as I understand them, and they are hard to understand, but it appears that Plymouth Township may have falsified documents submitted to the Michigan Department of Treasury, while seeking funding from the state. This is about the Economic Vitality Incentive Program. (EVIP)

Background on the Economic Vitality Incentive Program:

For years Michigan communities received funding from the State of Michigan through a program called Revenue Sharing. In 2011, Governor Snyder eliminated statutory revenue sharing and created a new program called the Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP). EVIP requires that communities produce a citizen's guide of it's most recent finances, documentation of collaborations and consolidation, and certification that new employee compensation criteria has been implemented to receive their community funding under this program. Ref: http://www.cityofeastlansing.com/EVIP/

Basically, this is a grant program which requires certain criteria to be met, as well as required information, that must be submitted to the State of Michigan Department of Treasury in order to receive certain types of funding for the year, and it is meant to encourage consolidations, and cooperation between municipalities, as well as other mechanisms that ensure that municipalities act responsibly with the taxpayer's money.

It requires that municipalities fulfill three separate requirements in order to receive their full funding for the year. They get 1/3 funding for each criteria fulfilled.

I have not ascertained how much money is at stake yet, but it is obviously enough that the township chose to jump through all the required hoops in order to get it.

I am going to detail Criteria #2 of EVIP, as this is the one that is highly suspect.

Criteria 2: Communities must produce a plan with one or more proposals to increase existing levels of cooperation, collaboration and consolidation within their jurisdictions. The plan must list previous efforts of cooperation, collaboration, as well as cost savings and estimates of any potential savings of future efforts. Beginning in 2012, the listed proposals must include a status update and the plan must include one or more new proposals.

So basically, Plymouth Township had to produce at least one new consolidation, or cooperation proposal for this year in order to satisfy the criteria to get the money from the State of Michigan.

Here is the sole cooperation/consolidation proposal that they submitted on this application to the state. This is off page six of the Shared Services Summary, that they have right on their website:

Under the Local Initiative heading: They indicated: ***New*** PARC

Under the Description heading they indicated: Plymouth Arts Recreation Complex- a collaboration of the city, township and school district to repurpose a middle school into a community arts and recreation facility.

Under the Year heading they indicated: Initiated Oct. 2013- Projected 2015 completion.

Under the Progress or Barriers heading they indicated: Initial team of community leaders, policy makers, sports teams and residents have initiated a general public meeting. Barrier could be creating a joint authority and a 25 to 30 million millage.

This can all be seen at the Plymouth Township website on page 6 of this document:  http://www.plymouthtwp.org/Departments/Supervisor/Finance/2014ConsolidationOfServices.pdf

So this is what our Plymouth Township elected officials did. They listed the PARC project on this application for state money. By doing this, they basically claimed that the PARC project was a project that they initiated.

They actually took credit for the PARC project, on an application for state money. They took credit for this project even though they voted 5-2 in January not to participate in any way with this project. They voted not to even sit at a table and hear a feasibility study.

Treasurer Ron Edwards said, “I want nothing to do with the City of Plymouth.” He made that statement at the Board of Trustees meeting on January 14th. 

This document was either created or amended in January. The report was due to the Department of Treasury on February 1st.

More importantly, they claimed on the application that creating a joint authority could be a barrier for this initiative.

Well it certainly could be a barrier given that they voted 4-3 not to enter into any kind of authority with the City of Plymouth until the end of 2016. Again, this vote happened on January 14th.

So they knew fully well when they filled out this application/report that there would never be an authority. They knew when they made these statements to the Treasury Department of the State of Michigan, that there would never be an authority, or any kind of participation in a PARC collaboration as well.

So here is the reality of the situation. They made these things up. They are pure fabrications, and there were no clerical errors, or miss-communications either. There is not one person in that Township Hall that doesn't know about the PARC issue.

Whoever created this report knew that the PARC aspect of it was a lie. It is safe to say that at the very least, Richard Reaume read this thing, and signed off on it. He may have created the whole thing.  Most likely all three of the elected officials at the Township Hall, at least knew what was in this report before it was submitted.

I doubt that the rest of the trustees knew what was contained in this report before it was submitted, because transparency and communication between the two groups are nearly non existent. Reaume, Conzelman, and Edwards do not communicate with the rest of the board like they should, and I suspect that this will soon become a sore spot with some of the other 4 trustees, as this makes the whole board look rather foolish.

There are more discrepancies within this report, and one that stands out, is that Plymouth Township has proposed as an initiative, a joint local fire department. They claim that it will save $400,000, they claim that it has already been proposed in 2012, and they estimate completion in January of 2015.

In their own words, on the report: Reviewing past consolidation success to evaluate adding a third member to this newly established two member joint fire department. Huh?

What newly established two member joint fire department? What the heck are they talking about? This report, according to the document was created or amended in January of 2014 for cripes sake. There can be no clerical error here. It's just a lie, and a whopper of a lie too.

There is no joint fire department, and there is not going to be one in the the distant future. They can't have one, because they voted not to enter into any kind of authority with the City of Plymouth.

There is more questionable material on this report, and I will be studying it closely through the night, as I have a sneaky suspicion that the Plymouth Township website is going to experience some glitches really soon, and may even go down for “maintenance.”

So many questions come to mind. Will the falsifying of information on this application mean that the township loses all of the funding for this year? Will they lose all funding for future years? Will they have to pay back some of what they have already received in previous years as a penalty?

Will the State Treasury consider this an attempt to defraud the state out of the monies applied for?

I do not know the answers to any of these questions, but I do know that this issue isn't going to go away any time soon...

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Hugh Jass February 20, 2014 at 07:25 AM
Another example of ineptitude fostering grandeur and entitlement. I hope the state will hold those powers that be accountable for what amounts to fraud. Unfortunately, it is the citizens/taxpayers who will pay the price for the deceit. And we're going to reward these buffoons with golden parachutes when they decide to "retire"? Fraud is fraud. If an individual is held accountable, the voted "leaders" of any community should likewise be held accountable. Our only hope might be the federal government intervening to determine the levels of deceit and corruption which has signified the reign of Reaume,Edwards,Conzelmann
Lisa Howard February 20, 2014 at 08:20 AM
Oh my...maybe they have had a change of heart????
Brad Jensen February 20, 2014 at 11:37 AM
Nice catch Brian. I hope you follow up with an interview with the Michigan Department of Treasury to see how they feel about these discrepancies.
Cathy Donaldson February 20, 2014 at 07:46 PM
Bryan Bentley (Editor) February 20, 2014 at 07:52 PM
I have spoken to the State of Michigan department of Treasury, and will comment on that tomorrow. Thanks for the comments.
Jane Q. Viewer February 20, 2014 at 09:04 PM
I have been both a City and Township resident with a career in finance, I'm floored by this story. If this is proven to be accurate, this was extreme gross negligence by the preparer/filer. The situation seems near idiotic, so I am trying to remain optimistic it can be cleared up. Frankly, if this is true, we need to know the background(s) of all individuals whom contributed to the EVIP form. Those individuals are not acting with the best interests of our community. Mr. Bentley, which part of Plymouth do you reside?
Bryan Bentley (Editor) February 20, 2014 at 09:12 PM
I live in Plymouth Township, and to clear another thing up. I was not the person who discovered this. It was brought to my attention, and I looked at the information, and communicated them as best as I could. The explanation given to me by the Treasury Department is coming online at Patch in a couple of hours. To be honest, the report is right at the Plymouth Township website. Under the EVIP rules, they have to post this stuff. If you look at the bottom of page 6, you can see for yourself how they portrayed the information. If you scroll up to page 5 you can see the confusing entries for the joint fire department they claim to be studying. http://plymouthtwp.org/Departments/Supervisor/Finance/2014ConsolidationOfServices.pdf
Jane Q. Viewer February 20, 2014 at 09:19 PM
Mr. Bentley, it was not easy to read this article because of my long history with the area. That being said, you seem extremely intelligent and thorough in this article. Your response has made me a fan of yours. This filing is so egregious, I can't even cite political motive as the reason the story made it's way to you.
Bryan Bentley (Editor) February 20, 2014 at 10:00 PM
Thank you for the kind words Jane... :)


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