In one resolution, the Hart Township Board Aug. 14 formally reprimanded township Clerk Tim Tariske and Treasurer Todd Metzler for their roles in providing Tariske a $3,500 salary advance without board approval.
It also directs township attorney Crystal Martin to request law enforcement officials to begin investigating the matter further.
Trustee Dick Huntington entered the motion to censure both men and received support from Supervisor Jay McGhan. They, along with Metzler and township Trustee Cal Moul, voted in favor of the resolution while Tariske abstained.
The board also approved a second resolution that prohibits Tariske and his wife, Carol, who serves as the deputy township clerk, from making purchases on township accounts without prior board approval. Later in the meeting, Huntington wanted to take it a step further by prohibiting Tariske from signing any checks, but Martin pointed out that as the elected township clerk, Tariske has statutory responsibilities and that she would have to research it.
“We can’t do anything about removing you from office,” Huntington said. “We’re legally hamstrung.”
The second resolution passed with Huntington, Metzler, Moul and McGhan voting in favor and Tariske voting no. Tariske wanted to strike certain parts of the resolution as he thought they were redundant and also pointed out that the resolution would delay payments to vendors as it could take up to 30 days for the board to meet and approve the purchases. He also said he didn’t receive the resolution until he arrived at the meeting and hadn’t had time to read it.
The first resolution involving censureship outlines activities which allegedly allowed Tariske to receive the $3,500 salary advance. It indicates that on or about Aug. 5, Metzler informed McGhan that he had written a check to Tariske as a salary advance. It further indicates Metzler told McGhan that after he had issued the check, he began to worry and questioned his authority to issue the advance. According to the resolution, McGhan immediately contacted legal counsel and the Aug. 7 special meeting with Metzler and Tariske was scheduled. At that meeting, Metzler and Tariske admitted the salary advance was issued. The next day Tariske received a letter from Martin demanding that the money be repaid by the end of the business day Aug. 13, but Tariske said he didn’t have the money to pay it back.
Metzler apologized to the township at its regular meeting and accepted the censureship for allowing it to happen, adding that a paper trail existed and that there was no intent to hide the salary advance. Tariske echoed Metzler comments.
“It’s been a difficult situation for all of us,” McGhan said.
The board also had considerable discussion when paying the bills. Tariske entered the motion to pay the bills as presented, but Moul wanted to strike the salary advance from payment. Huntington then entered a motion to pay the bills and strike the salary advance from payment, which passed 4-0 with Tariske abstaining. There’s also was discussion about withholding Tariske’s payroll check until the advance had been repaid, and at one point an audience member suggested that Tariske just resign.
“I’ve been here 32 and half years – why should I resign?” Tariske asked.