by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
The Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, Aug. 15 granted a formal request from the Michigan State Police’s State 911 Committee to return $458,913.30 in MERS (Municipal Employees’ Retirement System) pension funds that were over-assessed from the Shiawassee County 911 Fund in previous budget years, dating back to 2017. The State 911 Committee has requested the money be returned to Shiawassee County Central Dispatch by Monday, Sept. 2 and has threatened to forward the case to the attorney general if the deadline is not met.
In early 2018 it was discovered that, due to the restructuring of employee groups in the county’s MERS retirement payment plan, Central Dispatch’s monthly MERS payment had jumped from $14,000 or $15,000 to approximately $90,000. The dramatic increase occurred after MERS payments for active and retired Sheriff’s Office employees were mistakenly added to Central Dispatch’s MERS payment schedule.
Central Dispatch Director Angela Norling and Commissioner Jeremy Root, a member of the Central Dispatch Board, notified the State 911 Committee and began working to clarify and rectify the error, and the Central Dispatch Board decided in August 2018 to conduct an audit.
The Yeo & Yeo accounting firm completed a comprehensive historical audit of Central Dispatch’s retirement payment records from 2013 through 2018, which uncovered the full extent of the damage. Many of the commissioners breathed a sigh of relief last month, upon receiving the results of the audit.
“That dollar figure is a lot less than we thought it could have been. We expected a lot higher,” Commissioner Root shared during the Wednesday, Aug. 14 Committee of the Whole meeting. “We are going to work to have that paid off by the end of the year.”