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Improper Alcohol Purchases, Illegal Fundraising Found at Williams County Agricultural Society
Columbus – The Williams County Agricultural Society made $1,182 in improper alcohol purchases for resale at two illegal fundraising events it held during 2015 and 2016, state auditors found.
The society, also known as the fair board, hosted reverse raffle fundraising events on Feb. 7, 2015, and Nov. 11, 2016, generating a combined $49,410 in revenue. But state law prohibits games of chance anywhere on county fairgrounds, with some exceptions for charitable organizations that lease the grounds.
According to the audit report released today, the society was unaware of the law prohibiting the raffles. Auditors issued a noncompliance citation for the offense, labeling it an illegal collection of money.
“While financially rewarding, these fundraisers were poorly planned from a legal standpoint,” Auditor Yost said. “I suggest the society’s board of directors read up on the laws governing agricultural societies before organizing future events.”
The purchases of alcohol for the events also constituted a violation of state law because the society did not formally authorize such purchases in its constitution and bylaws.
Under state law, an agricultural society is only permitted to buy alcohol if its constitution and bylaws allow the purchases, if the money is not designated for other purposes and if the spending is reasonable.
Auditors issued $1,182 in findings for recovery against six current and former board members who approved the improper purchases. They repaid the full amount in August.
The audit also noted that the society lost out on more than $5,000 in ticket revenue from the September 2016 county fair.
The society contracted with a vendor to process credit and debit card ticket transactions, but a malfunction caused a $5,245 revenue shortage that the society failed to notice for more than half a year. By the time the society detected the error and notified the vendor in April 2017, the company’s 30-day window for billing inquiries had long expired.
Auditors recommended the society improve its internal controls by verifying collections agree with deposits in a timely manner.
A full copy of this report is available online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.