2013-03-02 / Editorials & Letters

Learn from Kirkersville’s missteps

Editor:

Other municipalities should look at Kirkersville as a “teaching” government. They will teach you how NOT to do things! I hope Buckeye Lake officials pay attention.

Here are some Mayor’s Court receipts for 2012:

Buckeye Lake Hebron Kirkersville

Aug $8,012 $4,608 $8,051
Sept 6,934 5,353 8,987
Oct 8,873 3,290 6,532
Nov 11,894 4,405 6,343
Dec 8,230 2,740 5,268

Hebron and Buckeye Lake both have about five times the population of Kirkersville. The numbers for Buckeye Lake are very high for November, and I do realize that it is possible that many more people actually come to Buckeye Lake than Kirkersville, but I hope the Buckeye Lake officials would encourage police officers to patrol ALL of the village rather than sit on the outskirts of town waiting for traffic violators.

I believe that Kirkersville typically pays out more than half of the mayor’s court receipts in legal fees. For example, in August and September, Kirkersville paid over $8500 to Village Solicitor Brian Zets for “Mayor’s Court/Municipal Court” legal services (excluding fees for magistrate).

I should have some more numbers to report when my records request is fulfilled but we seem to be at a standstill with pubic records requests in Kirkersville. Last year, as I was making a request for records to Police Chief Chapman, he told me that “it was established that ALL public records requests must go through the Fiscal Officer, Shirley.” The problem is that Shirley is only in on Wednesdays ALTHOUGH the public records policy for Kirkersville specifically states, under the section titled Inspection or Copying of Records, “regular business hours for Kirkersville are “Monday through Friday (except published holidays), from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.”

I requested a public record from the Ohio State Auditor’s office. I asked for a “management letter” associated with the audit that was performed in Kirkersville in the spring of 2012. I received it within 10 minutes of my request. That’s how OPEN governing bodies should treat the people!

In this letter, the auditing firm noted that Kirkersville “did not have a public records policy and did not have a poster (describing the policy). Ohio Revised Code requires that all public offices create a poster describing its public records policy. They had until September 29, 2007.

Another note from the auditing firm was that the Fiscal Officer wasn’t certifying that money for certain contracts or expenditures had been lawfully appropriated (or in the process of collection). “Contracts and orders for expenditures lacking prior certification shall be null and void.” They also said the Fiscal Officer, on most occasions, was not preparing purchase orders until after invoices were received. This can “result in overspending of funds and negative cash fund balances.”

The auditing firm also made a recommendation (that Kirkersville has been told REPEATEDLY)...create a credit card policy! “The village does not have a credit card policy detailing allowable purchases and items that may not be proper public purpose. The Village should implement a thorough credit card policy detailing this information and require detailed receipts to support all purchases made.”

More next week...

Bonnie Mansfield
Buckeye Lake

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