State: Township paid Springfield company $35K too much for road work

A state auditor’s report shows Spring Valley Twp. overpaid a Springfield-based paving company by tens of thousands of dollars in 2015, and the money was not returned until after the error was discovered in a routine audit two years later.

The township paid Ray Hensley Inc. more than $35,124 as a partial payment for work that had already been paid in full, according to the Ohio Auditor of State’s office.

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The total repair costs of $82,197 were paid to the company two weeks prior, according to the state.

State auditors alerted the township of the overpayment in August 2017, and Ray Hensley Inc. subsequently issued a refund by check on Sept. 5, 2017, according to the state.

Greta Wilt, owner of Ray Hensley Inc., said she caught the overpayment and immediately notified the township. She said a trustee informed her that more work was necessary on Richland Road and to apply the payment to that bill.

Wilt said time ran out to do the additional work that year.

“When we first received the overpayment, I called the trustee that we were working with … (and asked) what do you want me to do with it?,” Wilt said. “It was shown as a credit on my books, and the trustees knew about it.”

The error was an oversight on the part of the township, and it was not referred for criminal charges, said Dominic Binkley, Ohio Auditor spokesman.

Binkley said the overpayment was found when auditors reviewed non-payroll expenditures and noticed two payments issued to the same vendor.

“They compared the two payments and discovered that they were for the same invoice and exceeded the amount owed to the vendor,” Binkley said in a prepared statement.

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Binkley added that the auditors verified that the township had contracted for only one project from the vendor and notified the township’s fiscal officer, Kitty Crockett.

Crockett said they were aware of the payment to Hensley and that it was a credit for a future contract. She said the state wanted the money paid back because the expenditure was from a different fiscal year.

Crockett added that the potential road repair job was less than the threshold that requires local governments to award contracts through a bidding process.

“We were aware of it,” Crockett said. “Hensley does a lot of our smaller work every year that doesn't get bid out.”

The township ended 2016 in the black with a carry-over in the general fund of $125,989, according to the state audit.

The state’s audit report includes recommendations for the township to implement controls so that similar errors are avoided in the future.

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