Middleton Twp. can split state audit cost among funds

NEGLEY – With a shrinking general fund and an audit around the corner, Middleton Township Fiscal Officer Bob Chapman was concerned there wouldn’t be enough money to cover the cost of the audit.

The township has typically paid for audits using general fund money, but state cuts to Local Government Funding (LGF) is making that more difficult, he said.

In 2008 the township was getting $77,000 a year in LFG, which went into the general fund. This year the township received just under $35,000, according to his figures.

The township will be audited next year for 2012 and 2013 and the last audit cost around $3,000, but it was not a full audit. A partial audit is allowed when a municipality has no prior issues and a long-standing fiscal officer, he said.

“This time if we have a full-blown audit it could be close to $5,000,” he said.

That cost will now be shared by some other funds.

Chapman said the auditor’s office advised him the cost could now be spread between funds such as the motor vehicle license tax and levy funds, which is beneficial since the general fund is paying bills for other funds.

“This will help us out a lot .. we weren’t in as dire straits for the money in the general fund because they hadn’t cut the local government to the point it is now,” he explained.

Trustee Eldena Gearhart agreed.

“It’s a fair distribution. It will make it a little more realistic,” she said.

According to the certificate of estimated resources from the Columbiana County Budget Commission, the township is expected to operate on $630,490 in 2014. That figure does not include carryover.

Despite the loss in LGF the proposed budget is up some due to voter-approved renewal of an existing 2-mill road levy as a replacement levy, Chapman said.

The owner of a $100,000 home will pay $61 annually in taxes on the levy and the township will begin collecting on that next year.

The auditor’s office is also encouraging township employees to keep a better record of their service to avoid any discrepancies, Chapman said.

Township employees currently and in the past have logged their service by filling out a form indicating what percentage of time they spend working in various departments in order to be paid out of the respective funds.

For example, if 20 percent of their time is spent on roadwork that percentage of their pay would come out of the road fund, he explained.

Beginning next year they will move away from the percentages and record exactly how much time they spend doing specific township-related work. The record will need to include the date and time, and even phone calls they receive when they are at home, he said.

“The auditor recommended that you keep some kind of record, other than signing it (the form) to say ‘Twenty percent of my time this month went to the road fund,’” he said.

The more detailed log will ensure there are no discrepancies with regards to salaries being paid out of the different funds, Trustee Nancy Michaels said.

“This is just to safeguard ourselves,” she said.