City of Huron Overpayment Amount Doubles After Improper Pay Rates Aren’t Corrected
Columbus – For the second year in a row, the City of Huron (Erie County) paid three council members at rates they received illegally, raising the amount they owe to $39,600.
The overpayments cited in the city’s fiscal year 2015 financial audit, released today, are identical to those in the city’s 2014 audit released this past August.
“What we have here is a failure to communicate,” Auditor Yost said. “You’re entitled to your own opinion, and you can cherry pick the facts, but you don’t get to make up your own laws – and this was against the law.”
In December 2013, council passed ordinance No. 2013-58 to set its salary at a rate of $750 per month beginning January 1, 2014. The 2014 audit determined that council members David Schaffter, Rodney Kilbury and Thomas Solet accepted the raises in the middle of their terms, contrary to the city’s charter, which states that council can only “fix a different salary to be paid to their successors in office.”
According to city code, the three council members should have earned $2,400 per year until their reelection to another term in office, but the raises caused them to receive $9,000 per year. Their terms ended in November 2015, and Schaffter was the only member reelected to council.
Auditors notified city officials of the improper raises during the 2014 audit, but no corrective actions were taken. Additionally, none of the overpayments were repaid to the city. Findings for recovery in the amounts of $6,600 each were issued against Schaffter, Kilbury and Solet for fiscal year 2015. With the amounts from both years combined, each now owes the city $13,200.
Finance Director Catherine Ramey is jointly and severally liable for $19,800 from 2015 and $2,250 from 2014 for authorizing direct deposits that resulted in the overpayments. Likewise, former Finance Director Pamela Snell is jointly and severally liable for $17,550 from 2014.
A full copy of this 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 5,900 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.