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CHILD SUPPORT Mahoning Co. audit will include agency



Published: Thu, August 9, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



A CSEA union president welcomes the state's audit of the agency's finances.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The Mahoning County's Child Support Enforcement Agency will come under the scrutiny of the Ohio auditor's office.

County commissioners have asked that the CSEA be included in a performance audit of county government, which was initiated earlier this year and is expected to be completed in September, according to county Administrator Gary Kubic.

Including the CSEA will add $69,000 to the $250,000 price tag the state is charging for the initial audit work, Kubic said.

Kubic said commissioners asked for the CSEA audit because of long-standing financial problems there.

"The driving force behind this request is the [state's] continuous cycle of reducing its child support allocation to counties," Kubic said.

Commissioners laid off several employees from the CSEA earlier this year to help make up a projected year-end deficit of $1.3 million. The shortfall was largely attributed to the agency's being overstaffed.

Commissioners tried to shed the extra workers through attrition, but weren't able to make up the difference fast enough and said they were forced to enact the layoffs.

Here's the idea: Kubic said the performance audit should help commissioners find ways to streamline the CSEA operation on the shoestring budget created by the state funding cuts.

The agency's financial situation was a bone of contention earlier this year between commissioners and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3577, which represents most CSEA employees.

The union went on strike for about three weeks in April in a dispute over wages. Union officials questioned whether the financial situation was as dire as commissioners contended.

"This audit is something we asked for long before the strike," said Marcel Trevathan, Local 3577 president. "If the report is done right, it should be very interesting."

Purpose of audit: The original audit, which commissioners requested in January, is largely for the state to conduct a comprehensive review of compensation and salary ranges, job classifications and descriptions, staffing levels and turnover, training, personnel policies and benefit programs in all departments, including those outside the general fund.

It will also include a review of the sheriff's department, juvenile justice system, board of elections and the area courts in Austintown, Boardman, Canfield and Sebring.

bjackson@vindy.com




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