September 22, 2014

Elyria
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Airport’s books can’t be audited, state says

ELYRIA — The state can’t audit the Lorain County Regional Airport’s financial books for 2006 because of problems with how the county sent in its annual financial report.
The Ohio Auditor’s Office sent a letter to the county on June 6 ordering the county to revise the airport’s financial records so they can be audited.
Emily Frazee, a spokeswoman for the state auditor, said the county failed to follow generally accepted accounting principles when it prepared the books and failed to include it in the county’s comprehensive annual financial report.
There was no evidence that any money was unaccounted for, but without the audit, it’s impossible to know for sure, Frazee said.
“If your documents are in disarray and the auditors can’t come in and put the books in order then their financial people or the people in charge didn’t put together the documents the way they were supposed to,” she said.
The county commissioners took full control of the airport at the beginning of 2007 after more than a year of legal wrangling to dissolve an appointed board that previously had overseen the airport.
Assistant County Prosecutor Gerald Innes said the problems with airport’s financial documents could be traced to the shakeup at the airport. “Because of the delay of the transfer and the lawsuit, there were some problems,” he said.
County Administrator Jim Cordes, who served as the president of the airport board just before the takeover, said he did not receive the letter and was unaware of it until contacted by The Chronicle.
“We’ll take a look at the problem and get it straightened out,” he said.
County Auditor Mark Stewart, whose office is responsible for compiling the county’s comprehensive annual financial report, was out of town Monday and could not be reached.
Frazee said it’s rare for the state auditor to declare that a government entity’s financial books are unauditable. Out of the 5,500 government entities the state audits, only 88 have been declared unauditable.
Among those already facing state scrutiny is Carlisle Township, which is working with the state on its 2004 and 2005 books. The Arts Academy in Lorain is dealing with similar issues.
If the county doesn’t fix the problem on its own and get the corrected information to the state, Frazee said the state may sue to force the county to comply with its requirements.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.