KIPTON — Former village Fiscal Officer Rick Krueck overpaid himself for the work he did before resigning his position last year, a review of Kipton’s finances by Ohio Auditor Dave Yost’s office has found.
In a report released Tuesday, Yost noted that Krueck, who served as fiscal officer from April 1, 2013, until his resignation Oct. 7, 2013, paid himself about $365 more than he was entitled to receive.
The report said that Krueck issued a payment to himself for $1,667.50 on Oct. 8, 2013, to cover his salary from March 1, 2013, through Oct. 30, 2013. The salary for the fiscal officer is $2,500 annually and is to be paid at the end of the year, according to Yost’s findings.
Krueck did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.
The report concluded that Krueck “was able to process the warrant with no other review or oversight prior to issuance with only the fiscal officer’s signature being required at the time.”
Given the small size of Kipton — 243 in the 2010 census — Yost wrote that there needs to be more oversight for “critical accounting processes,” although the report said the village has taken steps to improve review of expenditures.
“The Village has subsequently required two signatures on all warrants issued and management and the Council has taken a more active role in the monitoring process; however the absence of these reviews could be considered a weakness in internal accounting control, resulting in inaccurate cash balances, or even undetected theft,” Yost wrote.
Blaine Kelly, a Yost spokesman, said the state didn’t issue a finding for recovery against Krueck because the amount of money he was overpaid was below the $500 threshold for such a finding.
“We report it to the entity for them to commence and try to get that money back,” Kelly said.
But Kipton Mayor Bob Meilander said the village is unlikely to take legal action against Krueck because it would probably cost more in legal fees than the money Krueck was overpaid. He said a final decision will be made by Village Council during its Sept. 8 meeting.
Meilander said the village is also finalizing details to make sure that contributions are forwarded to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System to cover the time Krueck worked for the village. The unpaid money, including taxes for Krueck, and other deficiencies in payments were among other issues discussed in the report.
The audit also found that there were problems with two electronic fund transfers that had been cleared but weren’t properly recorded in the village’s books, Kelly said. He also said the village had made three payments for which the checks hadn’t been cashed.
He said the village was told to contact the entities the checks were made out to and ask them to cash the checks.
The report also said that Village Council needs to adjust how it appropriates money in order to comply with the law.
The audit comes a month after Meilander called a town meeting to discuss the village’s financial woes and announce plans to slash Kipton’s budget from $80,000 this year to $70,000 next year.
Meilander said the village is reducing electricity use, freezing salaries for elected officials and doing away with its town solicitor to deal with the budget crunch. He said the village must renew its $14,000 per year operating levy in November or risk dissolving and being absorbed back into Camden Township.
After the July meeting, Meilander placed much of the blame for the village’s problems at the feet of Krueck, whom he accused of leaving behind unpaid bills and unopened mail when he resigned.
But in a letter to The Chronicle-Telegram last month, Krueck wrote he inherited the problems from his predecessors.
“The books were in disarray when I became the Fiscal Officer and there were myriad letters not opened and bills going back several years that were waiting to be processed,” he wrote. “There were tax issues that had not been reported and the list goes on and on.”
Krueck insisted that he had done his best to clean up the village’s books, but resigned after disputes with Council. He also wrote that Council committees had failed to provide proper oversight of village finances.