MAD RIVER TOWNSHIP – Incumbent Maralee Leonard, who is seeking a third, four-year term as Mad River Township fiscal officer, will face off with newcomers Jackie Ashworth, Jennifer Wendling and David Rudy, who are seeking to take her place, in the contested race on Nov. 3.
Ashworth is also a lifelong resident of Mad River Twp. and has lived the last 25 years with her husband Mark in the Village of Enon. The 1979 Greenon High School graduate has two grown children, a son and a daughter.
She served as the Mad River Twp. Fire and EMS administrative assistant chief for 15 years, where her duties included payroll, EMS and MVA billing, staff scheduling, billing deposits and reconciliations, personnel files and staff’s statistical data on attendance and performance.
She said she has also worked for more than 30 years as a public employee in utilities and facilities, including experience in budget preparation and administration, capital project management and oversight, personnel hiring and evaluations and daily operations of multiple facilities. She said she has additionally managed budgets of more than $3 million annually.
If elected, she hopes to establish a set location and office hours in the position, and organize files to provide transparency and efficiency so they are readily available to township leaders. She would also like work alongside trustees and department heads to establish a two-week payroll structure system.
“My first priority is regaining confidence in the fiscal officer position,” she said. “Bills and reimbursements have been excessively late in payment, township funds have been wasted on late fees and interest and most recently, additional tax dollars are being spent on an assistant to do the work that fiscal officer is elected to do.”
Her other priorities include ensuring all public records and employee files are handled correctly, and that public records requests are addressed quickly and accurately.
Leonard is a lifelong resident of Mad River Twp. and a 1996 honor graduate of Greenon High School. The mother of three has been the fiscal officer of Mad River Township since February 2008.
She worked for the state auditor in the past, where she performed audits of local governments, including townships, and at Wright State University as an Accountant 2 in the Office of the Controller.
She spent time preparing the annual aggregate appropriation budget, which is approximately $3.5 million, and cannot exceed the certificate of estimated resources, which currently includes $5.7 million projected revenues and carry-over fund balances. She currently pays all the bills and payroll for 62 employees twice per month.
If re-elected, she wishes to focus on changing the process of receiving and paying bills. She said at the moment, bills are mailed to as many as eight different locations, which consist of three PO boxes and five departments, which are ran by individuals who work on a part-time bases with other full-time jobs and may not see the bills until after the due date. Therefore, she prioritizes establishing a location and written process with the trustees for a timely bill management system.
She would also like to have a secure location for township records, as the fiscal officer’s office is accessible for anyone with a key. She feels that developing a better rapport among elected officials and department heads would be beneficial.
“Two years ago, the trustees promised a secure place for bills to be deposited for pick up, but this has not happened,” she said. “There needs to be a secure location for the records so that no records can be tampered with from the time they are remitted to the fiscal officer.”
Rudy is a lifelong resident of the township and the valedictorian of Greenon High School graduating class of 1989. He and his wife of 17 years, Jennifer, have two sons, Caden, 8, and Bryant, 13.
“I am a hard-working individual who knows how to budget my times to make sure deadlines are met,” he said. “I demonstrate this daily, as a tax and accounting professional, meeting multiple business and personal tax deadlines, and other monthly reporting requests for my clients.”
He is currently employed by a local tie-dye shop as an accountant, where he in charge of all payroll and accounting functions, and works as a self-employed tax professional and general accountant for a number of local businesses.
He worked as a senior staff accountant between 1994 through 2010 for the Rex Stores Corporation, where he was in charge of payroll and HR functions for more than 500 employees and worked closely with the controller and CFO to manage and monitor the budgets for a company which had more than $300 million in sales.
“The role of fiscal officer is a vital part of the team that administers the functions of the township, from Fire and EMS to road maintenance,” Rudy said. “I feel I have the background in human resources and accounting to fulfill the requirements of the office.”
His priorities include ensuring all payables and receivables are current, keeping communication from all parties involved in bill processing open and working properly and making sure that the community has a sense that their tax dollars are used timely and properly to provide them with the services they entrust this team to provide.
Wendling has been a resident of Mad River Township for eight years and is married to Tim Wendling, a township resident for 43 years and an active member of the township fire department for 33 years. The couple has four children.
She has worked for Premier Health for the last 18 years and currently hold a full-time leadership management position at Atrium Medical Center, where she supervises more than 50 employees and completes duties such as yearly budget preparation, capital project management, personnel hiring and evaluations and daily operations of three departments.
She also owned and operated a small business for three years, where she was responsible for accounting aspects. This gave her experience with with revenue projections, opening a new service line or business with preparing reports and financial analyses.
“I am experienced in handling pressure, meeting deadlines and successfully developing, managing and monitoring multi-million dollar budgets,” she said. ” … I also have comprehensive knowledge of fundamental account procedures and budget processes. In addition, I have been an active volunteer on the Mad River Fire Department as support staff for the last six years.”
Her priorities include carefully watching where township money is spent, repairing the relationship within the position and establishing a process that would ensure bills are received and paid on time without late fees and interest charges.
“I will maintain a close, working relationship with the trustees to ensure efficient spending and cost reductions and seek ways to collaborate with local organizations to promote efficient use of the townships tax dollars,” she said.
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.
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