BEAVERCREEK TOWNSHIP — Beavercreek Township is taking steps to make sure it pays its bills on time.
Informed at a March meeting that there were multiple invoices past due, trustees last week gave new Fiscal Officer Ryan Rushing the OK to hire additional full-time staff to assist the office. Three new assistant to the fiscal officer positions will be added, while a fourth will be an internal promotion of Janice Schultz to financial manager, also an assistant to the fiscal officer position.
Rushing ran unopposed and was elected in November. Previous Fiscal Officer Christy Ahrens, who also works in the juvenile court, is challenging A.J. Williams, current county clerk of courts, for his position in the extended March primary.
Rushing’s first day was April 1, the date of the special meeting.
“We encouraged the past fiscal officer to bring in additional resources to get caught up and to spread the workload,” Township Trustee Tom Kretz said during last week’s special meeting. “That was never acted upon. We can’t have vendors and suppliers paid late.”
According to Trustee Debborah Wallace, this is the second year the the township’s bills are being paid late, 90 days or more.
“We hope that the payroll and bills are paid in a timely matter from the fiscal officer in the future,” she said.
Because Rushing anticipates the hiring process for the three new positions to take a while due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he received approval to hire two additional full-time temporary positions and to continue a current temporary position for up to 120 days.
Trustees also passed a resolution authorizing the hiring of a CPA firm to review or compile financial statements and bank reconciliations moving forward in order to delineate and distinguish financial activity prior to Rushing’s term beginning.
Kretz said because information has not been entered into the state’s unified accounting network since January, the board has not received any financial reports. Because of that, Rushing said he could not tell trustees how much money was in the township’s account.
“We had issues last year with accounts payable,” Kretz said. “We are essentially unable to write a check for the township to any supplier and we have to essentially go to a bank and get a certified check to draw on our account to pay suppliers.”
When the issue was broached in March, Ahrens disputed the fact that her office was not paying bills and that it’s a recurring problem, citing only the one previous issue in her 14 years as fiscal officer, a position she was re-elected to several times.
“It’s an incorrect statement to say that we’re not (paying invoices),” Ahrens said. “We are paying bills. We are not paying late fees.”
Ahrens said she mentioned the predicament the office is in to keep trustees informed.
“It was in an effort to be transparent,” she said. “I’m not hiding anything. We are working to fix it. This was my quickest, best solution to fix it.”
In early 2019, Ohio State Auditor Keith Faber issued a finding of recovery against Ahrens for unnecessarily paying late fees and penalties. The report — released Feb. 7 — alleged that between June 2016 and September 2018, the township incurred $2,312 in late fees and interest due to the township not paying its bills on time. The township recovered $297, leaving $2,015 levied against Ahrens.
“The late fees and penalties assessed against the township serve no proper public purpose for the township and could have been avoided had the funds been remitted in a timely manner,” the report said.
The report called the amount “public money illegally expended.”
The Gazette made a public records request for all invoices 60-90 days past due and at press time had not received information.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.