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Auditor: Darke County village misspent thousands of tax dollars on contest prizes

Thousands of tax dollars were misspent to buy prizes to give to citizens by the Village of Wayne Lakes in Darke County, according to a state audit. 

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The report found the village made 12 improper payments in 2015 and 2016 totaling $4,210, most of which didn’t serve a public purpose, Ohio Auditor Dave Yost said in a media release Thursday. 

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The purchases included $3,500 for a golf cart and $220 for a kayak, according to the audit. Another $187 was spent on a permit for the golf cart and raffle tickets for a fundraiser. 

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The audit cites former fiscal officer Tammy Barger responsible for authorizing the spending for the prizes. Barger was ordered to repay the village, according to the auditor’s office. 

“These officials were elected to run a government - not a game show,” Yost said in the release. “Their use of tax dollars to pay for contest prizes is both wasteful and illegal.” 

Auditors looked into two other uses of tax dollars, including a $500 withdrawal by a previous mayor in 2015 for prize money intended for a fishing tournament. The former mayor, who the auditor’s office didn’t identify, later repaid the village. 

A 2016 expense of $400 was also questioned by the auditor’s office. The funds were used to pay a painting instructor during a fundraising party, supporting the village’s beach, the report says. The village council didn’t authorize the spending, however proceeds from the fundraiser offset the payment, according to the auditor’s office. 

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