MECHANICSBURG – Village Council on Jan. 4 received positive news concerning the recently completed audit of the village’s financial records, which was conducted by a private firm under contract with the Ohio Auditor of State’s office.
Fiscal Officer Dan Eck said he met with the auditors on Dec. 23 to discuss the findings of the three-year audit (2012-2014), which began in April.
“It was a long road, but we are pretty happy (with the results),” Eck said. “We are through the audit, we are balanced, and we are in great shape.”
Eck added the official report won’t be released to the public for another week or so, and no opinion will be issued by the state auditor’s office due to a conflict of interest.
“Because we had LGS (Local Government Services) in here for cash reconciliation and they are part of the state auditor’s office, the state auditor could not issue an opinion in the report as would be typically done,” Eck said. “They did tell us other than the Mayor’s Court Fund (no longer exists), which we knew had some tracking issues, they do feel that the books are accurately reflective, and we are doing all the right things.
“As with any audit, we had some management comments and some findings,” he added. “Some were resolved since the last audit and some are new. We were not surprised by any of them, and we have already put processes in place to address many of them.”
Mayor Greg Kimball weighed in on the audit findings by saying, “The majority of the comments were related to procedures more than anything else.”
In a separate financial matter, Eck reported the 2016 permanent appropriations budget will be ready for council approval in February.
Fighting illegal drug use
Following a third and final reading, council unanimously passed an ordinance amending chapter 624.06 of the village’s codified ordinances relating to landlords permitting drug abuse.
“We are trying to establish these additional landlord liability sections so that if drugs are found on the premises, we could compel the landlord to evict the tenant, Village Solicitor Joe Jimenez said. “In general, that’s the purpose of (the ordinance).”
Requested by Police Chief John Alexander, the ordinance now reads if any village police officer discovers, within a 24-month period, two or more incidents have occurred in which controlled substances have been found unlawfully upon the premises of any village residence, that officer must relay the information to the village solicitor and police chief. The solicitor will then contact the village code enforcement officer who, according to the ordinance, “shall provide notice to the property owner advising of the landlord’s statutory obligations to evict by certified mail.”
The ordinance goes on to note that any landlord given notice of repeat drug abuse at his or her property and failing to evict the tenant as outlined in the Ohio Revised Code is guilty of a minor misdemeanor, which involves a $150 fine for a first offense. If after being convicted of violating the ordinance, a landlord becomes a repeat offender, every subsequent offense will be treated as a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
In other business:
•Council member Jodi Compton was named president pro tempore for 2016.
•Kimball welcomed Charles Foss to council. Foss defeated former council member Christian Bradford in November.
•Village Administrator April Huggins-Davis reminded residents that all vehicles must be moved off snow emergency routes (state routes 29 and 4) when the village receives more than 2 inches of snow.
•The village is offering residents two options when it comes to disposing of live Christmas trees. Residents can either place their trees at the curb for pickup or they can drop them off at the village brush pile located behind the Mechanicsburg Street Department building on Mill Street.
•The Mechanicsburg Planning Commission will meet at 8 a.m. on Jan. 23 at the municipal building to discuss the village overlay.
•Alexander reported the Mechanicsburg Police Department’s workload increased significantly over the past year from just over 300 cases in 2014 to 618 cases in 2015. He also reported the Champaign County Municipal Court heard 187 cases originating from the village during 2015, up from 80 in 2014.
“Most of these cases heard in municipal court involved speeding,” Alexander said.
•Council was informed that Mechanicsburg Fire & EMS handled 170 to 175 fire runs and 583 medic runs in 2015.
“It’s probably a new record for total runs,” Kimball said.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.