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Former Bridgeport Fiscal Officer Owes More Than $22,300
Columbus – State auditors today ordered a former Bridgeport fiscal officer to repay more than $22,300 to the Belmont County village.
Bridgeport’s 2014-15 financial audit released today issues findings for recovery against Agnes Hess, ordering her to repay $12,835 for improper payments she received, as well as $9,523 for penalties assessed by the state and federal government.
“This fiscal officer made a complete mess of Bridgeport’s financial operations,” Auditor Dave Yost said. “The village’s current leadership owes it to their citizens to clean this up as soon as possible.”
The audit comes one week after the village of 1,831 people was placed in a state of fiscal emergency because it defaulted on outstanding debts. Hess resigned from her position at the start of 2016.
Auditors found she received overtime pay of $11,496 during 2014 and 2015 without required authorization from village council. Hess, who was appointed to the position in February 2014, also paid herself $382 she was not entitled to during her probationary period.
Other improper payments included reimbursements for $947 in expenses that she allegedly paid on behalf of the village. Bridgeport officials were unable to provide auditors with documentation showing the expenses were allowable.
The audit also revealed that Hess failed to submit employee income tax and Medicare withholdings to the state and federal government. As a result, the village paid penalties and interest of $1,778 to the State of Ohio and $7,745 to the federal government. Such payments do not serve a proper public purpose, auditors said.
In May, Auditor Yost labeled the village “unauditable” for its 2016-17 audit due to incomplete financial records and bank reconciliations.
A full copy of the village’s 2014-15 audit report is available online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 6,000 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.