Columbus – Using a township credit card for personal purchases and improperly increasing benefits for elected officials led to $22,640 in findings for recovery issued in the audit of Falls Township (Muskingum County) released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
“Public credit cards are not free-for-all plastic,” Auditor Yost said. “While I’m glad that repayments have occurred, the township needs strict guidelines and better accountability.”
In 2010 and 2011, Fiscal Officer Gary Hamilton made 12 purchases at Staples with the township credit card. During the audit, Hamilton indicated that the purchases were actually for his personal accounting business, and not for the township. In addition, 7 purchases made with a township credit card issued to Gary Hamilton did not include receipts. Auditors could not determine whether the purchases were made for a proper public purpose. A finding for recovery in the total amount of $2,492 was issued against Hamilton. On September 10, 2012, Hamilton repaid the full amount and it was deposited into the township’s general fund.
Various restaurant purchases on the township’s credit cards did not include supporting documentation. Township officials used the township’s credit card for meals at restaurants such as the Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse, Columbus Fish Market and Japanese Steakhouse. Findings for recovery were issued in the appropriate amounts. On September 5, 2012, Trustee Stephen Dillon repaid $127, Trustee Charles Archer repaid $54 and Trustee Wendell Smitley repaid $61. On September 10, 2012, Fiscal Officer Gary Hamilton repaid $342.
According to the Article II, Section 20 of the Ohio Constitution, in-term increases of benefits are unallowable. From 2010 to 2011, Fiscal Officer Gary Hamilton was the only elected official to participate in the township’s health savings plan. During that time, the township made a change from participating in a traditional health insurance plan to a health savings account plan with the township contributing the full amount of funding in the health savings plan. Because this occurred during the middle of Hamilton’s term, it is unallowable. A finding for recovery in the amount of $16,300 was issued against Hamilton, and on August 30, 2012, he repaid the full amount to the township’s general fund.
A full copy of this audit may be accessed online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,600 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.