By Wayne Allen
Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost announced this week that Rush Township, in Scioto County, has been placed in fiscal caution.
Rush Township Trustee Phil Lajoye called it a good thing, and will said help in the long run. He said when the township started using a new accounting system it caused the a number of problems, and the township has various accounts in which they can spend money.
“There’s road and bridges, general fund fire department levy, a cemetery fund and various others. Payments where made out of the wrong accounts, payments that should have been out of the general fund came out of the cemetery fund, for example,” Lajoye said. “That happened in 2011-2012 and left us (Rush Township) with a negative balance in our general fund.”
According to information from Yost’s office, circumstances that led to fiscal caution included a review of the township’s financial records on June 24, 2014, which found that account journals and ledgers with the bank had not been reconciled since March 31, 2012.
The 2010-2011 financial audit identified significant deficiencies, material weaknesses, and direct and material noncompliance with Ohio law. The audit found that the township erroneously posted various receipts and disbursements to incorrect accounts and funds, failed to pass appropriation measures prior to year end, expended in excess of appropriations and failed to properly encumber funds prior to commitment.
Lajoye said the township will now go through, with assistance from the auditors office, to audit their records and provide training.
“We need to go back through and audit everything and put all of the money back in the correct accounts,” Lajoye said.
He said the trustees met on Tuesday with a representative from Yost’s office, and said it would take less than a year to emerge from fiscal caution.
Under the declaration of fiscal caution, the township has 60 days to submit to the Auditor of State a plan to correct the conditions that led to the declaration of fiscal caution. Representatives from the Auditor of State may visit the township and inspect the entity while under fiscal caution and may provide technical assistance to the entity in implementing proposals to eliminate the conditions that prompted the fiscal caution declaration.
“The auditor’s office is receiving no resistance from us, we look at this as a good thing. This was something we asked for,” Lajoye said. “They are going to help straighten all of our books, and by January they expect we will have a clean house and ready to move forward.”
There are several communities around the state with a fiscal status, including several within Scioto County. Bloom Township is currently under fiscal emergency status, the city of Portsmouth is currently in fiscal watch, and the village of Rarden is currently in fiscal caution.
There have been a few local governments emerge from fiscal status including Scioto County who was in fiscal emergency. The city of Portsmouth emerged from a fiscal caution status, only to be placed under another fiscal status.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT