Auditor’s office says findings in Upper Twp. not unusual

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 2, 2003

"It's not perfect, but the issues we see here are not uncommon in entities this size."

That's the way one employee at the Ohio State Auditor's Office described an audit of Upper Township finances, released late last week.

The audit contained 14 findings for recovery, many of which auditor's office spokesman Chris Slagel described as "things they need to do differently." Slagel said while no money is missing, state officials want township bookkeeping to be in line with state standards.

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Among other things, state auditors rapped the township for loaning money from one fund to another to cover negative balances in the general fund and other areas, appropriating more money in some areas than what the township had to spend, using then-and-now certificates to approve of expenditures after the fact, making untimely banking deposits and poor reconciliation of bank statements.

"We do take this seriously," Slagel said. "The Ohio Revised Code says we have to do things a certain way. In the past in other places, some of these things (bookkeeping errors) have led to the entity getting into dire financial straits."

Upper Township Trustee Jerry Rowe said the findings probably indicate a need for more bookkeeping training for township officials.

"I'd like to see zero findings on the next audit," Rowe said. "We're going to have to find someone to help us and lead us in the right direction. We've got to make sure it's done right."

State auditors will make each township official pay back money they were not entitled to receive. Township Clerk Eddie Markins and each of the township's three trustees, Jerry Rowe, Charles Rowe and Robert Ackerman, will have to pay back money that they were incorrectly reimbursed Slagel said all four officials were reimbursed for money that was withheld from their salaries and was paid into the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). Markins must pay back $715.20. Each trustee must pay back $529.44.

Rowe said township officials thought they were allowed to be reimbursed for PERS contributions. Rowe said he has already paid back the amount he owed, but is not sure if the other trustees have yet done so.

Some of the findings for recovery in the audit, which covers the years 2001 and 2002, were also listed as findings for recovery in previous audits.

"The ORC is pretty complicated, and we do provide training to clerks and trustees," Slagel said. "They've got issues we hope they'll work on."