Unreported Checking Account found at Village of Belmont Volunteer Fire Department
Columbus – Super Bowl and Christmas parties for the Village of Belmont’s volunteer fire department were partially funded by public dollars, according to an audit released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
“The issue was not only that the fire department used public money for parties, but they also had a separate checking account without the village’s knowledge,” Auditor Yost said. “Thankfully, this issue has been resolved and the department now has a legitimate source of supplemental funding.”
During the audit period of 2011-2012, auditors discovered that the fire department had a checking account that was not under the control of the village legislative authority or even reported. The account was controlled by former fire chief Mike Stewart and funded by small local donations and contracts with Belmont County and the Belmont County Fair Board to provide EMS services.
Six expenditures from the account were used for Super Bowl and Christmas parties, totaling $1,456. A finding for recovery was issued against Stewart, which was repaid under audit.
According to Ohio Revised Code section 9.38, a public official shall deposit all public moneys received by that person with the treasurer of the public office. The fire department has since terminated the checking account and established an auxiliary organization called the Belmont Volunteer Fire Department Association. Donations received through the association may be used at the department’s discretion.
A full copy of this audit may be accessed online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,800 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.