More than $2,000 in public money is missing and $67,161 in fees may have gone unpaid for years, according to a state audit released Tuesday of the Springboro Building and Zoning Department.
State Auditor Dave Yost issued a finding for recovery, demanding repayment from former department secretary Denise Payne for $2,088 the audit alleges the city received for permits but never made its way into the city’s bank account.
This includes $1,159 in seven cash payments voided from the billing system for no reason and not deposited into the city’s bank account, state officials said.
“Money in should always result in records and receipts,” Yost said in a statement Tuesday. “Without proper documentation, taxpayer dollars are at risk.”
The audit of department finance records from 2006 through 2010 started amid theft concerns from city officials after they found that cash collections for permit fees decreased significantly.
City and state officials said it’s unclear what happened to the money. The Warren County Prosecutor’s Office would not comment on whether it is conducting an investigation.
Payne could not be reached for comment. City officials said she resigned in November 2010 to move to Washington state with her husband, who is in the military.
The audit found numerous instances where permits were issued but the fees did not appear paid. In 15 cases, totaling $67,161, checks were paid by builders but were never deposited. These have been re-billed, according to city officials.
Another 135 permit fees were voided for no discernible reason, though city and state officials say no money appears to be missing in those cases.
Springboro City Manager Christine Thompson said she wished the report were more clear on what happened to the missing money.
“We would like closure,” she said.
Thompson said Payne was mainly responsible for handling permit payments.
“We don’t have any reason to suspect that there was anyone else other than her who was doing 99 percent of those transactions,” she said of the instances cited by auditors.
To prevent something like this from happening again, Thompson said the city has put additional levels of review in place for any voids and has budgeted more than $100,000 to update the city’s 25-year-old permitting software.
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