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CG owes $40K in OPERS funds

Money diverted from general fund until paid off

 

The reason the Village of Coal Grove owes the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System (OPERS) more than $40,000 is unclear. It is clear, however, how that money is getting paid back.

Lawrence County Chief Deputy Auditor Chris Kline said the repayment method is similar to garnishing one’s wages.

“Our office received a bill from OPERS for more than $40,000,” Kline said. “Ohio Revised Code mandates certain money be withheld from Coal Grove’s general fund and be used to pay the debt.”

Three revenue streams will be diverted, property taxes, mobile home taxes and the Local Government Fund; the latter is generated from the state’s general fund.

Those go into the village’s general fund, which in 2012 was $573,000, according to a state audit. The village’s total budget that year was $850,000.

Coal Grove is required to pay PERS monthly, Kline said, and after several months of nonpayment PERS uses the last month paid to arrive at a repayment amount.

“Governments that pay into PERS are self-reporting,” Kline said. “All we are given is a total. We don’t know if it includes any late fees, penalties or interest.”

The money, Kline said, can only be withheld from the village’s general fund.

A regular audit of the Village of Coal Grove reported the village paid all OPERS contributions in 2012, but as of Oct. 2, 2013, owed $1,800.64 in delinquent fees, penalties and interest reported in the state audit through June 2013.

All employees of the Village of Coal Grove belong to OPERS except police officers, who belong to Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund (OP&F).

Questions about the Village of Coal Grove’s finances and reporting methods have long been an issue. Village council requested an audit in May 2013 after multiple late payments of bills and insurance.

“We are kind of operating in the dark,” Larry McDaniel, Coal Grove mayor said last May after council requested the audit. “We didn’t know how much money we had or what bills have been paid…we felt like there should have been more money.”

The amount of time it will take to repay the $40,000 is uncertain, Kline said. Calls to village officials were not returned by presstime.