Ignoring commission bad move

Published 10:09 am Friday, January 9, 2015

County officials are waiting for an opinion from the Ohio Attorney General on who has the legal authority to determine how much money the county commission has to spend throughout the year — the county’s fiscal officer or the three-member budget commission, which includes the fiscal officer.

In December county auditor and fiscal officer Jason Stephens ruffled the feathers of the budget commission when he certified funds for the county’s special revenue funds without bringing those numbers to the other two members — county treasurer Stephen Burcham and county prosecutor Brigham Anderson — for review.

Stephens contended he didn’t need to consult the budget commission.

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What purpose does the budget commission even serve?

It makes sense that the fiscal officer be a vital member of the budget commission and an important resource to the other members of the budget commission and other county leaders when it comes to financial questions.

But for that fiscal officer simply to ignore the other members of a committee whose only purpose is to review the county’s potential revenue seems irresponsible. Checks and balances are needed at all levels of government; at least a few more sets of eyes could provide a different perspective on the county’s finances. Where’s the harm in that?

The parameters of the budget commission, according to the Ohio Revised Code, are extremely vague and unclear, so seeking the AG’s opinion was a good move to resolve this conflict.

But if the AG hands down an opinion that the county’s fiscal officer has the only legal authority to certify revenue, the budget commission should be dissolved because it is utterly useless.

Certainly the prosecutor and treasurer have better things to do.