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Audit Finds Symmes Township Paid Over $33,000 in Late Fees
Columbus – Auditor of State Keith Faber today released the 2017-2018 audit of Symmes Township in Hamilton County, which uncovered that the township accrued $33,182 in late fees over the course of four years.
“Late fees do not constitute a proper public purpose and taxpayers should not be on the hook to cover them,” Auditor Faber said. “I recommend and know that the township has put stronger internal controls in place to ensure bills are paid in full and on time, so residents get the maximum return on their investment in the community.”
As fiscal officer, Carol Sims was responsible for preparing and mailing assessment fund requests to the Hamilton County Auditor for all of the township’s lighting districts. Sims told the Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit that she submitted the assessments to the county auditor’s office by standard mail in three batches, but the county auditor did not receive all of the assessments. Sims said she realized the assessments had not been received when there was not enough money in the township’s lighting district fund to cover the street light costs billed to the township by Duke Energy. Since the township did not have the money to pay for street light costs, Sims made the decision to randomly allocate the money available to each of the lighting accounts, resulting in monthly unpaid balances for some accounts. Duke Energy assessed a late fee for every account that they township did not pay in full each month.
State auditors obtained all of the Duke Energy invoices paid by the township from January 2014, through November 2017 and identified late payment charges totaling $33,182.
Auditor Faber has issued a finding for recovery against Sims and in favor of the township’s special assessment lighting district to recover the entire amount of the late fees. Sims has repaid the finding for recovery in full.
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 6,000 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Keith Faber, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies, and promotes transparency in government.