The Ohio auditor’s office said Gasper Twp. Fiscal Officer Anitra Roell’s actions resulted in “gross neglect of her duty amounting to reckless disregard” for the township. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

State: Local township officer in ‘gross neglect’ of duty on tax filing

A Preble County township fiscal officer has been cited by the state for failing to timely remit federal tax withholdings of township employees, the second time in the past year a citation has been filed on the township’s handling of taxes.

The Ohio auditor’s office said Gasper Twp. Fiscal Officer Anitra Roell’s actions resulted in “gross neglect of her duty amounting to reckless disregard” for the township.

The failure to remit the tax withholdings cost the township $4,899 in penalties and late charges from the federal government, the Ohio auditor’s office said in a finding for recovery released Thursday.

“A finding for recovery for public monies illegally expended is hereby issued against Anitra Roell,” state records show.

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A finding for recovery is issued when public property has been misspent or misappropriated, according to the auditor’s office.

“Under Ohio law, any public official who either authorizes an illegal expenditure of public funds or supervises the accounts of a public office from which such illegal expenditure was made is strictly liable for the amount of the expenditure,” according to the state audit.

The $4,899 has not been repaid, Ohio records showed Monday. The issue has been referred to the Ohio Department of Taxation.

Several attempts to contact Roell and township trustees on Monday were unsuccessful.

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The auditor’s office report involved 2016 and 2017 records. In April 2019, a federal tax lien filed with the Preble County Recorder’s Office showed Gasper Twp. trustees owed the federal government more than $35,000 for taxes dating back to 2014, according to public records.

Gasper Twp. Trustee Eric White said last May the township passed a resolution to pay the taxes from the lien in full.

White suggested at that time that Roell was to blame for the tax situation. He said that the township may seek disciplinary action against her for dereliction of duty, although he did not believe anything illegal had occurred.

Public officials controlling “public funds or property are liable for the loss incurred should such funds or property be fraudulently obtained by another, converted, misappropriated, lost or stolen,” according to the Ohio auditor’s office.

Gasper Twp. should implement policies and procedures to verify that all payroll withholdings and remittances are paid in a timely manner so as to avoid any penalties and late charges, according to the auditor’s office.

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