2/22/2023: County treasurer in the hot seat

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The Daily News and Events Roundup

For those who live, work, and play in Kalamazoo County

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

High 35°/Low 34° Rain and ice

Kalamazoo County’s treasurer was in the hot seat last night. But it looks like the county’s finances are back in order. Also: A county proposal to elect road commissioners is on hold for now. And road and utility crews are prepped and ready for today’s anticipated ice storm.

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Treasurer: County’s finances are in order

It looks like Kalamazoo County’s financial books are in order after several tumultuous months for the county treasurer. Treasurer Thomas Whitener gave a report on the county’s fourth quarter investments while under oath last night. It’s unusual for such reports to be under oath, but county commissioners required it following months of recurring problems and after Whitener failed to attend the commission’s previous meeting two weeks ago. Accountant Steve Kirinovic of the private accounting firm Maner Costerisan also gave a report. That company was hired last year to help reconcile receipts with the county’s accounting records. He said they looked through every batch of receipts and found some had not been posted on time while others weren’t posted at all. All have now been reconciled.

Whitener withstood in-depth questioning during his report. Commissioners asked him about county funds that weren’t invested last year – specifically, $55 million that went uninvested for months. Officials estimate the county lost out on more than $300,000 in potential revenue because of that. Whitener said his focus was on safety and liquidity rather than generating revenue. “It is very important when we’re investing public funds that we’re not losing that money,” he said. Commissioners disagreed. “I think yield needs to be a higher priority than it has been,” said board Chair John Taylor. In the end, Whitener reported that the county’s finances are up-to-date and accurate as of Dec. 31. The county’s annual audit is already underway.

Road commission election plan on hold for now

A controversial proposal to change how Kalamazoo County road commissioners are picked has been put on hold until staff can take a deep dive into the issue. The road commission has drawn criticism from bicyclists who say the county has been slow to expand bike routes and townships who are upset about county-imposed speed limits. Both say the road commission is unresponsive and an elected board would be better.

Currently, road commissioners are appointed by the county commission. County Commissioner Jen Strebs has championed the idea of a county-wide vote for road commissioners, but several other county commissioners are opposed to the idea. Commissioner Jeff Heppler, who represents several rural townships, said moving to the election of road commissioners could cause more problems than it solves. “We could end up with five commissioners from the City of Kalamazoo,” he said, which could make the board less responsive to rural issues. Commissioners agreed to task county staff with researching the idea and reporting back in August.

More News You Need To Know

Crews gear up for freezing rain

The salt trucks are out and utility crews are ready and waiting as rain and ice are expected to pour over Kalamazoo County today. A spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Transportation said they don’t know what’s in store, but they’re prepared for the worst. “Mother Nature doesn’t always give us her playbook, so she can throw a curve balls at us and there’s really nothing we can do to stop weather from happening,” Nick Schirripa told WWMT. But they can respond with road crews. The same goes for power and utility companies. Consumers Energy said their Storm Restoration Team is monitoring the storm and ready to respond to power outages as they pop up. Fortunately, weather forecasters predict significantly warmer temperatures on Thursday, which should quickly clean up any ice that accumulates. [WWMT]

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo Restaurant Week – Downtown Kalamazoo

From Chinatown to Every Town: How Chinese Immigrant Entrepreneurs Have Expanded Restaurant Business in the United States – WMU
3:30PM 2/22

Board Game Night – Main Street Pub, West Main
6:00PM 2/22

Designing Native Plant Gardens: Minimizing the Error in Trial and Error – Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones
7:00PM 2/22

3 of a Kind – Hilton Garden Inn
7:00PM 2/22

Whiskey Myers – Wings Event Center
7:00PM 2/22

Bullock Series: Chico Pinheiro with Greg Jasperse – WMU, Dalton Center
7:30PM 2/22

Gaelic Storm – Bell’s Eccentric Café
8:00PM 2/22

Mardi Gras Bash – Crafted Copper
8:30PM 2/22

Tough Topics: The Absence Of Money Talk For Our Youth – Black Arts & Cultural Center
3:30PM 2/23

Happy Hour with Steve – The Park Club
4:30PM 2/23

Locating Identity in the Abstract: A Panel Conversation – Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
6:00PM 2/23

KFS Local Filmmaker Showcase – Kalamazoo Film Society
6:30PM 2/23

Team Trivia at the Library – Richland Community Library
7:00PM 2/23

The Mountaintop – Kalamazoo College, Nelda K. Balch Playhouse
7:30pm 2/23-25, 2pm 2/26

Sophistafunk w/ The Mainstays – Bell’s Eccentric Café
8:00PM 2/23

Tab Benoit WSG JD Simo – State Theatre
8:00PM 2/23

Karaoke – Shakespeare’s Pub
8:30PM 2/23

Music with Steve Kamerling – Brick + Brine
6:00PM 2/24

Trivia & Soul Food – Black Arts & Cultural Center
6:00PM 2/24

Bear Tracks Music – Green Door Distilling Co.
6:30PM 2/24

Jurassic Park in Concert – Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra
7:00PM 2/24

Something Rotten! – Center Stage Theatre
7pm 2/24-25, 2pm 2/25-26

Museum – WMU, Richmond Center for Visual Arts
7:30pm 2/24-25; 1pm 2/26; 4pm 2/26

Peter George – Final Gravity Brewing Co.
8:00PM 2/24

Ebony Vision: Celebrating 20 Years – WMU, Dalton Center
8pm 2/24-25, 2pm 2/25

Up and Under’s Up and Comers – Rugger’s Up & Under
9:00PM 2/24

See more upcoming events here.

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