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Village of Gratis Audits Uncover More than $62,000 in Findings
Columbus – More than $62,000 is missing or was misspent in the Village of Gratis according to the 2008-2009 and 2010 audits of the village released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
“There’s no room in public service for those who fail to account for taxpayer dollars,” Auditor Yost said. “Plain and simple: this money must be returned to the citizens of Gratis.”
Special audit procedures were conducted as part of the financial audits. These procedures are done in instances where there is suspicion of the misuse of public funds.
From 2008 through 2010, Former Fiscal Officer Serrer Phillips was responsible for keeping track of utility payments and making deposits to the village’s bank account. A reconciliation of the utility bills and deposits found that Phillips did not deposit utility collections totaling $44,900 into the village’s bank account. A finding for recovery in this amount was issued against Phillips.
Phillips also served as the mayor’s court clerk for the village. During 2009, it was found that Phillips did not deposit $4,137 in fine, bond and court cost payments to the village bank account. In 2010, she failed to deposit $4,699 in payments. Findings for recovery totaling $8,836 were issued against Phillips.
Per the Ohio Revised Code, mayor’s courts are, in some cases, required to collect court costs to be paid to the Ohio Treasurer by the offender. From 2008 through 2010, the Gratis Mayor’s Court distributed only $12,618 of the $19,596 due to the treasurer of state. As the mayor’s court clerk at the time, Serrer Phillips is liable for the monies collected but unaccounted for and was issued a finding for recovery in the amount of $6,978.
All findings issued in these audits have been turned over to the Preble County Prosecutor.
The Village of Gratis, located in Preble County, has a population of 881 according to the 2010 census.
A full copy of this audit may be found online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,600 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.