Commissioners table move to censure absent treasurer

CORUNNA — A proposal to censure elected county Treasurer Thomas Dwyer for showing up for work infrequently and not performing his statutory duties was tabled Wednesday at the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners’ Committee of the Whole meeting.

Earlier this week, Vice Chairman Brandon Marks, R-District 4, had requested that a discussion about censure be added to Wednesday’s agenda. On Wednesday, Commissioner John Plowman, R-District 7, made a motion to table the issue until next month.

The vote was 4-3, with commissioners Plowman, Marlene Webster, R-District 1, Gary Holzhausen, R-District 3, and Dan McMaster, R-District 2, voting in favor of tabling the issue, and Marks, Chairman Jeremy Root, R-District 5, and Commissioner Cindy Garber, R-District 6, voting in opposition.

Marks said during a commission meeting last month that he planned to bring a motion to censure Dwyer this week if the problem was not resolved. At Monday’s committee meeting, he said not only was it unresolved, it had grown worse. He said if censure didn’t work, he would support asking the governor to remove Dwyer from office.

On Wednesday, Marks seemed surprised the motion was tabled — without discussion to that point — and wanted to know why.

“Over $100,000 has been spent to perform the (treasury) department’s statutory duties,” Marks said. “If he is unable or unfit to serve in office, we’re accomplices now to anything bad that happens because we tabled.”

Dwyer, a Republican who has been elected to the office of treasurer every four years since 1996, did not attend Wednesday’s meeting. The Argus-Press previously has been unable to contact Dwyer for comment.

Webster said all of the commissioners were concerned about Dwyer, but given his many years of service to the county, she believes there is a better way to handle the situation and felt confident a solution could be reached.

McMaster said “we have been trying to open the lines of communication” with Dwyer and have made some progress.

Marks said it has been difficult for him to push for action regarding Dwyer, but it was not his job to make decisions based “on heartstrings.”

He said in his view it would be wrong for some commissioners to try to force Dwyer out of office behind closed doors. The process should be done “in the public eye,” he said.

Garber said the situation has been going on a long time and it’s been a downward spiral.

“Yeah, he’s a nice guy, but that can’t dictate my decision,” she said.

Root noted the board’s effort to resolve the situation with Dwyer has not been popular with the public and Marks has been “left out to dry.”

Commissioners have said Dwyer has been a mostly absent treasurer for roughly the past three years. They have noted he has not been present for the past two county audit report presentations, and that the county has not performed bank reconciliations — matching cash account balances to bank statements — for two years.

The county commission retained an outside accounting firm, Lansing-based Maner Costerisan, some time ago to shore up work that was not getting done in the treasurer’s office or the finance office, which has had a turnover of three finance directors in the past two years.

The treasurer’s office budget for 2019 was about $335,000. In 2018, the board increased the salary of all employees, including Dwyer and other elected officials. His salary increased from $50,419, plus benefits, to $61,152.

(1) comment

Mother Hen

Why is he still employed if he is chronically absent from work?

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