Archived Story

$250,000 check remains in limbo

Published 9:17am Friday, September 13, 2013

The $250,000 check from LM Associates to the Ironton Metropolitan Housing Authority that was then given to Lawrence County remains uncertified and unavailable for the county’s use.

“The prosecutor wants me to send a letter to the auditor of state and ask what is their opinion as to what we can do with the money,” Chief Deputy Auditor Chris Kline said.

Following negotiations and transfer of the Sherman Thompson Towers property to LM Associates, cashier’s checks for $250,000 each were given to the Lawrence County Commissioners and the City of Ironton.

The budget commission, made up of the County Prosecutor, County Auditor and County Treasurer, met on Tuesday to review possible certifications of additional revenue. Before revenue can be used by the county is must be certified by the budget commission. It did not certify the check from LM Associates.

Until that time, the quarter of a million dollars remains in an escrow account until the auditor’s office receives what it believes is sufficient authorization to use the money.

Eight months ago LeRoy Eslinger of LM Associates came to the commission to ask it to help in negotiations with the housing authority to get a reversion clause removed from a lease between LM and the housing authority, according to Commission President Bill Pratt said. Those negotiations had been going on for the past three years.

The clause would have made the towers the property of the housing authority in 2032.

The commission asked Eslinger if he would agree to pay the housing authority $500,000, Pratt said. He agreed.

The county had wanted to use that $250,000 towards capital purchases and upgrades at the courthouse and county jail totaling $477,500 including three new cruisers for the sheriff’s office, a 4-wheel drive ambulance, software upgrades at 911 dispatching and a new jail roof.

“I understand we want to be clear about how we treat this from accounting standpoint but it appears to me to be a contribution that will be credited to the general fund,” County Treasurer Stephen Burcham said. “I think we are making sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed before we go forward.”

County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson said at the Tuesday meeting County Auditor Jason Stephens brought a copy of the check for $250,000 to the county and said he wasn’t sure where the money was to be deposited.

“I am not sure where the money came from and why the county got the $250,000,” Anderson said. “It has never been explained to me why we received that money. What I don’t want to have happen is we certify it, the commission appropriates it and have an audit finding down the road. If we put it in the general fund and the commission spends it and we later found out it should have been put in a special fund, not the general fund. We might have to pay that back. That would be a hardship on the county. We need to look into this further. The county needs to have all the information so we can make the best decision for the county.”

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