Taylor Issues Mahoning County Board of MRDD Performance Audit

Audit Identifies More than $570,000 in Annual Cost Savings, about $1 Million in Increased Revenue

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mahoning County -

State Auditor Mary Taylor released the performance audit of the Mahoning County Board of Mental Retardation and Development Disabilities (MRDD) today.  The board could save more than $570,000 per year if the recommendations outlined in the audit are implemented.  Additionally, MRDD could earn approximately $1 million in revenue as a result of negotiations with county school districts.

“This performance audit will serve as a valuable resource for Mahoning County Board of MRDD leaders as they make financial decisions in the coming years,” said Taylor.  “It is our hope that we are giving them all of the tools necessary to ensure fiscal stability so that they can continue to provide essential services to the community.”

The five-year forecast developed as part of the audit shows a negative fund balance beginning in FY 2009.  By 2011, the fund deficit is projected to reach approximately $16.7 million.  However, by implementing the recommendations in the performance audit, the board could address some of the matters driving the deficit, stave off the deficit through 2009 and reduce the FY 2011 deficit to $10 million.

The performance audit was conducted at the request of the Mahoning County Commissioners and the Mahoning County Board of MRDD.  The audit reviewed financial systems, human resources, compliance, technology, client services and case management.  The major savings identified in the audit pertain mostly to human resources, client services and case management.  Recommendations included:

• Negotiating agreements with school districts to recover half of the costs of operating the program for school-aged children to potentially add $1 million in additional revenue.
• Compensating employees at levels closer to other similar entities by eliminating the practice of paying a portion of employee’s retirement contribution to save $289,000, altering salary schedules and limiting negotiated wage increases.
• Considering the reduction of two instructors to save $136,000.
• Increasing full-time employee contributions for health care premium costs to at least 12 percent to save $75,000.
• Increasing part-time employee health care premium contributions for certain staff to be proportionate with hours worked would save $31,000.
• Purchasing a centralized software system to integrate all client information and documentation at a cost of $8,500 to install and $22,500 annually.

The audit also noted many commendable practices at the Mahoning County Board of MRDD, including the following: 

• The board frequently surveys community members and holds annual planning meetings that are open to the public.
• The board has maintained positive fund balances each year from FY 2000 through FY 2006.
• Health insurance premium costs are comparable to relevant industry benchmarks.

Performance audits determine the efficiency and effectiveness of government agencies or programs.  This is achieved by comparing the audit client to other similar entities. A performance audit can be used to help agencies improve operations, save taxpayer dollars and make good use of existing resources.

The Ohio Auditor of State’s Office is one of the largest accounting offices in the nation.  The office strives to ensure that all public funds are spent legally and appropriately and works aggressively to root out fraud, waste and abuse in public spending. Taylor encourages anyone suspecting fraud or misspending of public dollars to contact her office toll free at 1-866-FRAUD-OH (1-866-372-8364).

A full copy of the report is available online at http://www.auditor.state.oh.us/AuditSearch/Reports/2007/Mahoning_County_MRDD_07_Performance-Mahoning.pdf