DAYTON — Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith is pushing for the removal of a short, little-known amendment to Ohio’s budget bill that he says would “increase the possibility of fraud and abuse” of public funds if enacted.
In a letter to State Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, who serves on the conference committee for the state budget bill, Keith asks Butler to support the removal of the amendment to ORC Section 319.16.
According to Keith, this amendment states that the county auditor must issue a warrant for money payable from the county treasury upon presentation of a court order without the necessity of evidentiary material. Keith said this provision allows courts to spend taxpayer dollars without proper financial oversight and “establishes a terrible precedent.”
“This amendment limits the ability of county auditors to perform their duty to protect county funds,” Keith said. “To permit the spending of taxpayer dollars without providing receipts or invoices to justify the expense is simply bad public policy.”
Keith said the amendment is part of the version of the state budget bill passed by the House but is not included in the Senate version. He said the removal of this amendment in the final version of the state budget bill is a top legislative priority for county auditors.
A copy of Keith’s letter follows:
July 3, 2019
Honorable James Butler
State Representative for House District 41
Ohio House of Representatives
Dear Representative Butler:
This is to follow up on my message from last week asking for your support for the removal of an amendment to ORC Section 319.16 from the state budget bill.
This amendment to HB 166 would require County Auditors to issue warrants upon the presentation of a court order with no corresponding evidentiary documentation provided by the court. This is inherently bad public policy and bad public accounting practices. Without proper evidentiary documentation, there would be no means of knowing if the requested expenditure serves a proper public purpose. Additionally, this amendment establishes a terrible precedent and, if enacted, increases the possibility of fraud and abuse.
As a long time serving County Auditor and a past president of the County Auditors Association of Ohio, I am concerned about the lack of transparency and accountability this amendment creates. It violates the basic principles of checks and balances and proper financial controls.
Please support the removal of this amendment to ORC 319.16 that appears in HB 166. It is in the best interests to all of the residents that we both represent. If you have any questions or concerns, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (937) 225-4878. Thank you for your consideration.
Karl L. Keith
Montgomery County Auditor