State audit nails Summitville

SUMMITVILLE – A former Summitville fiscal officer already under indictment for stealing village funds has also been cited in a state audit issued last week.

The routine state audit of Summitville’s books for 2009 through 2011 included a finding for recovery in the amount of $1,590 against Jennifer L. Burton and the village’s insurance company. Burton, 34, is current awaiting trial this summer in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court on a charge of theft in office for allegedly stealing more than $1,000 in village funds between March and November 2011 while serving as fiscal officer.

The finding for recovery provided more details about the situation. The state audit determined there were 12 instances where Burton, who also served as mayor’s court clerk for the village, collected $1,590 in cash for payment of tickets issued by the police department, but there is no record of the money being deposited.

Burton stepped down as fiscal officer in late 2012, and the state legislature has since outlawed mayor’s court in communities with less than 201 residents. Summitville’s population is 135.

When a finding for recovery is issued, the legal officer, which in this case would be Summitville’s village solicitor, is authorized to collect the money within 120 days, which is likely unnecessary since legal proceedings against Burton have already been initiated. The finding for recovery was just one of 10 non-compliance audit citations against the village for failing to follow state law and the administrative code in maintaining village books. There were another 10 non-compliance findings listed in the audit’s accompanying management letter also addressing the haphazard way in which village books were maintained and policies were followed.

Following are some of the citations and findings:

– The village failed to withhold federal, state and employment-related taxes and state retirement payments from village officials and employees, and otherwise failed to properly maintain payroll records.

– The audit found 22 checks paid to the village between 2007 and 2010 totaling $3,260 were never cashed and later voided. The new fiscal officer contacted the state and had the checks reissued. The problem was compounded when the uncashed checks were listed as receipts in the village books.

– No meeting minutes could be found for five meetings held in 2010, and the meeting records that were found were not signed by the fiscal officer and mayor or council president. The minutes also lacked detailed information when it came to approving funding appropriations.

– No evidence could be found showing the fiscal officer attended state-mandated continuing education training in 2009 and 2010, nor did village officials attend required public records training or adopt a public records policy.

– Officials failed to adjust budget appropriations to accurately reflect revenue received, with the result being more revenue listed than actually existed each year.

– Changes in the amount council, mayor and mayor’s court clerk were paid was not reflected in the meeting minutes, and the pay was often inconsistent.

– No times sheets were provided to substantiate what was paid for the village’s police officer, nor was there any council attendance records for those years. Council members are paid per meeting.