NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – The Newton Falls Joint Fire District failed to send complete financial records to the state auditor’s office, forcing Auditor Dave Yost to declare it “unauditable.”
The problem stems from the audit of 2014 – 2015. Yost says the department failed to send in months worth of records.
Yost sent the district a letter stating all of the bank reconciliations from 2015 and eight months of 2014, in addition to bank statements from January through June of 2014, were not received by the auditor’s office.
In a press release Tuesday, Yost said:
Complete financial records shine a light on local governments. Taxpayers should not be left in the dark on how their dollars are being spent.
The fire district says it is aware of the issue and is in the process of correcting it. It says it knows where the records are and is trying to access them.
“They were on an electronic program that does not permit the district to go back, and the hard copies are not available because they are in storage,” said David Comstock, Jr., the district’s legal counsel.
The records are in storage with the recently retired chief, who Comstock says has been out of the continental United States celebrating his retirement.
The fire district’s audits are biennial, so the reports aren’t sent in every month or year. Comstock says the monthly reports are typically given to the board for review.
“The board members didn’t save them because they review them every month, then they throw them out. The expectation is the fiscal officer has them, fiscal officer places them in a box, they go to the chief, they place them in storage. There’s the issue.”
Comstock says the district has learned its lesson, and will change their filing process and computer technology.
The district has 90 days to get the records to the auditor and if not, some board members can be subpoenaed to court by Ohio’s attorney general.
It will be removed from the “unauditable” list once the audit is completed and released to the public.