Township accounts audited
- Published: February 7, 2013
Miami Township elected officials were ordered to pay $11,624 back to the Township last week when a state audit revealed that they overpaid themselves in 2010 and that money in the Township’s books is missing from its bank account.
Trustees Mark Crockett, Lamar Spracklen and Chris Mucher were each overpaid $1,001, and fiscal officer Margaret Silliman was overpaid $2,772 in 2010 when fluctuations in the Township’s budget resulted in the use of the wrong salary schedule, according to the audit conducted by the state auditor’s office.
Trustees said this week that they already have, or are in the process of, returning the amount they were overpaid. Silliman, who works about 10 hours a week for the Township, is appealing the audit finding on the missing funds to the state auditor’s office.
“The missing money is quite a mystery,” she said. “I did not take any money. Something bizarre happened in accounting in 2010.”
The $5,849 in missing funds stems from a bookkeeping discrepancy between the Township’s books and its bank account that occurred over a four-month period in 2010. Silliman, who is responsible for finding the apparent bookkeeping error or repaying the money, is recreating the books from that period. It may take months to figure out what happened, she said.
Because a township official’s salary is based upon the size of a township budget, when Miami Township’s budget fell below $1.5 million, which it did for 10 months in 2010, pay should have been set at $10,288 for trustees and $16,977 for the fiscal officer. Instead the trustees and fiscal officer were paid salaries of $11,318 and $19,806, respectively, which is the rate for budgets greater than $1.5 million, the audit found.
The salary overpayment occurred because of bad advice from an official with the state auditor’s office, Silliman said. While onsite completing Miami Township’s biannual audit in April 2010, the auditor noticed that Silliman and the trustees were underpaid in 2008 and 2009, when the township budget rose above $1.5 million. With the blessing of the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office, Silliman issued back payments that year of $3,418 to herself and $1,245 to each trustee.
At the auditor’s suggestion, Silliman said, she then set pay for 2010 based upon a budget of more than $1.5 million, though the actual budget was only $1.4 million from January through October of that year.
“It would be really nice if the State of Ohio’s attorney general acknowledged that misdirection was part of the quagmire that was created,” Silliman said. “It would be nice if they said, ‘it’s our responsibility.’”
The state auditor’s office will now turn its findings over to the State Attorney General and Greene County Prosecutor to make sure the Township is repaid, according to a spokeswoman for the auditor’s office.
The state auditor’s office, which audits more than 5,600 state and local government agencies, issued the findings in December as part of its its 2010–11 audit of Miami Township.
“Watch the cash, watch the law,” said State Auditor David Yost in a press release. “If you’re a treasurer or trustee and you don’t do those things, you’re going to owe the taxpayers some money.”