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Payment plan sought in audit ruling

The county is waiting on whether the state will OK a payment plan on the money it must pay back to satisfy a state audit ruling that funds from the department of job and family services was misused.

This summer the state DJFS issued a ruling that Lawrence County must pay back $380,000 that was misspent by the county DJFS.

“I sent them a proposal about three weeks ago,” Lawrence County Commission President Les Boggs said.

Boggs suggested the county pay the state $78,000 a year for the next five years. He also asked that any penalties and interest be waived. At the time of the ruling the state gave a deadline of the first of September. If not paid by then, penalties would apply.

Most of the disputed money was reportedly distributed during the startup of the Lawrence County Emergency Medical Services in 2011. To pay for training the new EMS staff $300,000 came from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

The EMS staff had previously worked for the now defunct Southeastern Ohio Emergency Medical Services. The justification for the expenditures was because these paramedics and EMTs were now unemployed and needed assistance in finding new jobs, then DJFS director Gene Myers said at the time of the ruling.

Also in dispute is $80,000 in TANF funds that went to the 4-E program of the county’s juvenile court.

It was appropriate TANF funds were used for this program because the program’s goal is to prevent children from being taken in DJFS custody, Myers said.

“I’ve not heard back but I don’t see why they wouldn’t accept it (the proposal),” Boggs said.