Alcona updating conflict of interest policy

HARRISVILLE The Alcona County Board of Commissioners took its first look at an updated, three-page conflict of interest policy Wednesday during their regular meeting.

The step is being requested by its auditor, and a draft was made available by Alcona County Prosecutor Tom Weichel, who serves as board attorney.

“There is a lot of stuff we do that’s on this conflict of interest policy, because this is a small community,” board Chairman Kevin Boyat said.

The policy states that it is a conflict of interest for any commissioner, county official or employee to use their job for personal gain or enrichment.

But what Boyat was referring to is that he and other commissioners sit on boards or act as liaisons between the county and those organizations. For example, Commissioner Bill Thompson sits on the Recycle Alcona County board as a volunteer and donates his time and Boyat, a farmer, has been supporting the fair, 4H and other agricultural programs during his tenure.

“For me, when I go out to get funds for the fair it would be wrong,” Boyat said. “If I go to the convention once a year and they pay for a room, that would be wrong.”

Boyat said he and the others pledge during the oath of office to report any conflicts of interest, and must disclose those conflicts if they arise during a meeting. This also means they can’t make a motion regarding the topic, and must abstain from voting.

To clarify the issue, the board will ask Weichel to attend a future meeting to answer questions. Board members also are considering that county employees read and sign an expanded policy on an annual basis during their annual organizational meetings with department heads.

In other business, Probate Court Judge Laura Frawley asked the commissioners to amend the child care budget so $75,000 in money from Alcona Community Schools and Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency can be managed to pay for two school Success Partnership program workers.

The school has contributed $50,000 and the NEMCSA will give a $25,000 grant that will allow the two professionals to guide academic programming for children at a young age.

The program is a collaboration between community agencies, courts, schools and parents to improve student attendance, grades and behavior.

The program will start in September and the two employees will work year-round, she said.

In other business:

* the board approved payment of bills from May 7-21 in the amount of $710,289.

* commissioners approved the harvest of about 10 acres of poplar at the fairgrounds, with proceeds of between $4,000 and $5,000 to go to maintenance of the property.

* the board contributed $600 for a Memorial Day luncheon for veterans at a local restaurant after services at local cemeteries.

* the next regular meeting will be 10 a.m., June 4.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at blehndorff@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.