A state audit found Beavercreek Twp. Fiscal Officer Christy Ahrens failed to pay some bills on time, and Trustee Tom Kretz said the state will reveal other discrepancies in a future audit.
Ahrens was named in the state audit report released Thursday for owing money to the township after it incurred late fees for not paying bills in a timely manner from 2016 to 2018.
The township had $2,312 in late fees and interest during that time “to vendors such as Lowe’s, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Spectrum Business, and PNC Bank,” according to the Ohio Auditor’s Office.
“These charges could have been avoided had the payments been made in a timely manner,” the release states.
The late fees paid by the township are considered “illegally expended” public money, and a finding for recovery has been issued against Ahrens, according to the report.
The audit report states since Dec. 14, the township has been able to recover $297 worth of late fees, making the total amount owed back to the general fund $2,015.
Ahrens said turnover of staff in the fiscal office because of reduced salaries was a factor in the bills being overlooked.
“I’m the fiscal officer. It’s on me, and I take responsibility, but it’s been difficult,” Ahrens said.
Ahrens sued the township’s board of trustees in 2016 after they voted to cut salaries in half for her two assistants. The salaries were cut from approximately $81,000 to $45,500, and $57,000 to $33,200.
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in September 2018 that the trustees were working within their authority when they denied the salary requests, but they overstepped their authority when they set those salaries themselves.
Ahrens said in a 22-month period, there have been seven different people hired for the accounts payable position.
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“Due to that decision that they made, it’s been very difficult to find quality people, especially to stay in this accounts payable position,” she said.
Kretz said he expects more findings for recovery will be issued in a future state audit report.
“In the case of the illegal late-fee payments, and with other costly mistakes that will come out in the future, the trustees literally begged the fiscal officer in open session meetings to seek the help of a third-party, independent CPA firm to audit the township’s accounts payable and payroll processes,” Kretz said.
Ahrens, who works full-time for the county’s juvenile court, is up for re-election this year to retain the fiscal office position.