Trustees question Clerk’s ‘frugal’ furniture purchase

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BROADVIEW | The purchase of office furniture for the Broadview village clerk’s office has come under fire from some village trustees.

Village Clerk Kevin McGrier, who likened the office space to “a dungeon” before he took over, said he got a great deal on the furniture equipment and that he had approval from Mayor Katrina Thompson to make the purchase.

Village trustees hammered the purchase from two sides – one for only having a handwritten receipt for the furniture; the other for making the purchase while the village already has other office furniture in storage that could have possibly been used.

“We have a handwritten notice. That does not equal an official document,” Trustee Sherman Jones said at last week’s Village Board meeting when attempting to pull the invoice from the ledger of village bills to be paid. “We have no way to verify that purchase.”

“We have to stop these kind of purchases,” Jones said, lamenting the lack of a business receipt for the furniture.”

The clerk’s $375 purchase included a desk, hutch, bookcase and shelves.

McGrier said that there is money in his budget for furniture and that the handwritten receipt was because he bought the items off of Craigslist.

“I got the purchase authorized by the mayor,” McGrier said. “If I bought those items brand new, they would be nearly $1,300.”  McGrier said he went and picked up the furniture himself and even constructed it himself once he had it back at his office.  “I am very frugal guy,” McGrier said in defending his purchase. “… I think I made a good purchase.”

The village clerk said he wished he was able to buy the office furniture from a store and provide a store receipt, but noted that he would not have gotten the deal he got going through a retailer.

Broadview officials approved the expenditure by a 3-2 vote with Thompson and Trustees Judy Abraham and Verina Horne voting in favor.  Trustees Tara Brewer and Jones voted against approving the expenditure.

Brewer said she could not justify the nearly $400 expenditure when office furniture from the remodeling of the police station is still in storage.  “It is an unnecessary expense,” Brewer said.  Thompson said that furniture from the Police Department would not fit in the clerk’s office.  Abraham agreed with Jones that there should have been more than a handwritten note submitted for the expense, but didn’t feel it appropriate to hold up the purchase for a more detailed receipt.

Broadview administrative offices have been moved around and McGrier is now is the office space formally occupied by village Treasurer Thomas Hood.

“The place was a dungeon,” McGrier said. “It was dusty. The furniture was antiquated.”  McGrier said the office space, as it was, wasn’t suitable for members of the public to come in, sit down and fill out forms.

Thompson said that she did give McGrier authority for the purchase although the money was already in his budget for office furniture.

She said McGrier’s office, along with others areas of Village Hall, are being revamped.  “The furniture in Village Hall has not been updated in 27 years,” Thompson said. “The carpeting is old. Our set-up was very inefficient.”

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