Math errors prompt $147K county 'write-off'

Erie County auditor Rick Jeffrey can't pinpoint exactly how $147,024 went missing from the county's general fund years ago, but the discrepancies are documented in the state auditor’s evaluations on local finances obtained by the Register through a public records request.
Andy Ouriel
Nov 3, 2012

 

A document offering a summary of some county budgets effective July 2012 shows a "write-off reconciliation variance" for the $147,024.

So what did Jeffrey do?

He essentially erased the negative balance from the books by approving the write-off so all funds could even out.

But don't call it a write-off, Jeffrey said.

"A write-off is the adjusting of the numbers to get it to where the balance should be," Jeffrey said. "It's a misnomer saying 'we are throwing it away.'"

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Get Saturday's Register to find out how bad math added up to $147,024. 

Comments

Darkhorse

That is all the county knows how to do is to write everything off. What happened to the County's insurance? Doesn't their insurance cover against theft in office so they don't have to write it off? Was the county neglegent in taking on this type of insurance coverage? What happened to the girl who was supposed to pay the money back? They need to go after everything she owns including pension funds. I hope the county doesn't get into the habit of writing things off. There is 11 million dollars in delinquent taxes they haven't collected either. I guess they will evenutally write that off also.

eriemom

The PDF is difficult to read upside down.

beachdog

Easy fix for that problem. Just right-click within the document and use the 'Rotate counterclockwise' function twice...voila!

PolarBear24

So the variance was discovered in 2010 by State Auditors, written off by Jeffrey in 2011, but the Register is just now reporting on it 3 days before the election between Hammond and Shenigo. Not to mention how gutless the Register is to run this story on the same day that they run the obituary of Mr. Paul's son. Thumbs down Mr. Westerhold.

Commenter

agree PolarBear24
Really low Mr. Westerhold

Taxed Enough Already

it's what the Register does best. Low blows!

reader

Agree.

Julie R.

The auditor can't pinpoint how $147 thousand went missing so he just gets to write it off? That sure is a switch from the Vermilion case. Remember how Baxter and Vermilion's law director (from the Lorain County law firm of Stumphauzer & O'Toole) had an audit done and the only discrepancy that was found was less than $10 thousand stemming from the former finance director thinking she was entitled --- like everybody else is --- to her unused sick and personal days when she left office? Remember how Baxter had her arrested and made a big deal out of it in the Lorain Journal? Remember how Baxter made sure the Journal printed the big "theft" off less than 10 grand occurred under the watch of the former mayor, Jean Anderson? (who incidentally has a lawsuit against the law director and his Lorain County law firm -- who handle all legal issues for the city -- for refusing to provide a detailed account of what the law firm is charging the Vermilion taxpayers?)

Wonder why Baxter isn't making a big deal out of this.

OMG.LOL.WT_

Math is hard.

007

Remember this also against JO DEE FANTOZZ WRITING OFF $200,000 OF TAXPAYERS MONIES FOR Kevin Baxter, and the 10's of thousands that was stolen from Fantozz's office and she couldn't even account for how much was stolen, thus hiring an outside firm to determine how much was in fact stolen. Wait a minute, that's her job!! She allowed these monies to be stolen by an employee in her office and didn't even realize it? Then when it was made known she couldn't even figure how much was taken.. JO DEE FANTOZZ IT'S TIME YOU ARE REMOVED FROM OFFICE AS YOU HAVE PROVEN THAT ACCOUNTING ISN'T YOUR STRONG ATTRIBUTE!! I'M SURE THESE ARE JUST A FEW OF THE REASONS SHE REFUSED TO HAVE A DEBATE WITH KRABILL ON THE REGISTER VIDEO!!

Taxed Enough Already

yep kinda tells ya who to vote for doesn't it?

Vizegoth

More missing money. How is it that Erie county can get away with "throwing away" negative balances on the books. Are the officials so corrupt they can continue to steal, "write off", hundreds of thousands of dollars totaling into the millions every year? When and how did Sandusky become a cestpool for coruption.

Julie R.

Considering that Ohio Law designates the county prosecutor to be the chief legal counsel for all county offices (called statutory clients) and it's the prosecutor that represents and advises the county offices, (that came straight from an assistant prosecutor named Jason Hinners), does this mean it was the county prosecutor that advised Jeffrey to 'write-off' the $147,024.00? If so, how can the prosecutor and Jeffrey just make the assumption that the missing money was because employees added and subtracted wrong without doing any research into it?

It says in the paper that state auditors have been continually questioning the county's bank accounts never balancing or reconciling under the county auditor's watch since 2004 right up until 2009. Shenigo says: "When the auditor and treasurer now write off a second $147,000, it definitely makes you wonder what went on for years in the auditor's office."

He got that right!

deertracker

This is a joke! You "can't" find the error so you just write it off? Only in American government!

Darwin's choice

The county owes me $147,000....send me a check and all will be even!

wiredmama222

This is supposed to be taxpayer money, not their personal funds. As a taxpayer I would like them to FIND this money and not "write it off."

Why is it that each year these books are not balanced? Whose job is it to see that they DO balance each year (fiscal year, which I believe is April is it not?)

There is no excuse that I can imagine that would excuse someone from not doing the job for which they "ran" and were elected or assigened. Why wait all these years to do what should have been done on a yearly basis?

Something smells of so much unfrigerated fish here. As taxpayer I should think we would have the option to FORCE them to search for that money instead of accept a lame excuse and watch them "write it off" or play fast and loose with this money. This is just rididulous. It really isn't his final say so, is it? I would think it would be ours as the money is ours to begin with.

Darwin's choice

"Barbra Johnson"......

Taxed Enough Already

incompetence at it's finest.

car 54

Shenigo is certainly paranoid, how come we haven't heard of any lawsuits??

2cents's picture
2cents

Saving this if I ever have a problem with the IRS : )

How bout that

Well said Polar Bear24. Why wasn't this reported a few months ago? Maybe this was intentionally held by the Register to be a November surprise. Maybe Shenigo whispered into the Register's ear and fed the great investigative reporter this info. This makes me wonder what else the Register will throw out there trying to get the Republican,oh I'm sorry Democrat (yeah right), and favorite ad purchaser re-elected.

Keep Focused

From a practical standpoint the balance adjustment is appropriate. $147,000 is a lot of money but it is .7% of the current revenue. If you measure the $147,000 as part of the revenue over the last seven years it is not even one thousandth of one percent.

The problem was known in the four years of the last Auditor. That was the time when the error should have been traced. The confusion that existed in the Auditor's office in 2005 would make a reconstruction of the events that lead to this situation almost impossible to perform, time consuming and expensive, with the probability of an unclear conclusion.

I feel the current Auditor took the only action he had available. While not popular, the Auditor is being decisive and is trying to spend his time to do the current job.

There you go again

You are friend of Mr. Jeffrey, obviously! If you think $147,000 is "no big deal" then you must be better off than the rest of us.

Pete

TDB:

Typical Democrat Behavior

Hose the tax payers at every turn.

Phil Packer

Just go hit the trifecta! You know something!!!

fenderstrat52

UMMMMM, let's see. 147 grand went missing from my checking account. Oh well, no big deal! There is more where that came from right? Common sense tells me not to worry about it. BEHOLD! THE MIGHTY PEN! Guess I shouldn't sweat the small s**t. ANOTHER DAY! ANOTHER DOLLAR! Great minds think alike.

rjk1915

Thank goodness it wasn't more. But it shouldn't be brushed off.

Julie R.

When Jeffrey won the auditor's seat, I predicted that he was going to find a ton of fraud that went on in that office dating back at least 10 years, if not longer. I predicted that for a couple of reasons. One, how easy it was for attorneys and other morons to fraudulently transfer my mother's property seven months before her death under a fraud power of attorney concealed in another county and second, a local title company, after doing a title search for the realtor that bought the property at a court-ordered scam sheriff sale (and was real quick to deny him title insurance), told me that the fraud they are finding during title searches at the Erie County courthouse is unreal.

Looks to me like my prediction is coming true.

Darkhorse

Jeffrey is stilling digging out. He just acquired the job while on the other hand, the three commissioners have been on board for a while so who is watching out for the taxpayer? Where is the accountability? Maybe it is a time for a change.

hilltop

Hmmmm, maybe Baxter bought another boat . . . .

Julie R.

Why would the county commissioners be held accountable for the auditor's office when OHIO LAW designates the county prosecutor to be the chief legal counsel for all public offices? Sure wouldn't be the county commissioners fault, either, if auditors authorize fraudulent transfers of property, recorders knowingly file fraud documents and joke courts of law force property with serious defects in the titles to be sold at scam sheriff sales under fraud preliminary judicial reports.

wiredmama222

It seems to me that the fox is guarding the chicken coop here, does it not seem that way to anyone else? Why in the world would anyone take someone's word for anything at this point where all this missing money is concerned? I think it may be time to appeal to a higher power and go OUTSIDE the community for answers since there are none here.

Is it too much to ask that we find out once and for all since this seems to be a HUGE problem and now someone is doing a random act of "fixing" the books by adding and subtracting to the tune of a couple hundred thousand dollars to fix the problem?

I think maybe it is time to contact Columbus and ASK that the send someone to do an audit of the county books whether it costs us money or not. This is totally unacceptable and if the powers that be can't give a reasonable answer to a direct question other than 'someone made a few math errors somewhere" (dry that out and you can fertilize the parks with it), then maybe we need a LOT of help here.

I, for one, don't like that answer and want to know what the heck happened to that money and WHO HAS IT OR WHERE IT WENT. EITHER SOMEONE TOOK IT OR SOMEONE MADE A BIG MISTATKE.

Either way, as a taxpayer, I have a right to know and I have the right to an HONEST answer so I am going to see if I can get one.

Julie R.

@wiredmama: In Erie County the fox has been guarding the chicken coop for a loooong time --- a lot longer than anybody would ever guess. The public officials also seem to forget that government offices are not private businesses and as a public entity the people have every right to that information and by law they have to provide it --- but in Erie County they don't adhere to the laws so good luck in trying to get an answer.

Julie R.

How long was Jude Hammond the auditor, anyway? Wasn't it for least 7 years -- from 1998 right up until 2005 -- when he suddenly resigned to take a job as the treasurer of the Margaretta schools? Didn't the office's former chief fiscal officer up and quit right about that time, also? So did the recorder, Trish Fraley. Didn't she suddenly decide to retire in 2005 right after Hammond resigned? Wasn't it Tom Paul, who worked in the prosecutor's office, that took Hammond's place?

According to the paper state auditors were continually questioning why the county's bank accounts, under the watch of first Hammond and then Paul, never balanced from 2004 right up until 2009. Now all of a sudden the new auditor finds a $147,024.00 discrepancy in the books, but on the advice I'm sure of the prosecutor --- who is the chief counsel for all public offices --- he writes it off claiming it was math errors on the part of the employees.

Yeah, right.

wiredmama222

Like I said, perhaps someone needs to ask for a "recheck" by someone not associated here?