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2 Boardman trustees refuse to sign off on state audit

Published: Wed, November 18, 2009 @ 12:08 a.m.

By Denise Dick

A state spokesman said the two officials’ stance is ‘an unusual situation.’

BOARDMAN — Two township trustees won’t sign a letter that’s part of a financial analysis conducted by the state auditor’s office.

Trustees Robyn Gallitto and Kathy Miller, both of whom lost their re-election bids earlier this month, are refusing to sign the letter to the state auditor’s local- government-services section. That division conducted a fiscal analysis of the township.

Gallitto and Miller say they won’t sign because they don’t know what township Fiscal Officer William Leicht provided to auditors.

Trustee Larry Moliterno signed the letter.

Trustees haven’t “discussed and agreed to the specifications made in the letter, and we have nothing to confirm the accuracy of the information provided to the auditor of state,” Miller said in a written statement.

The letter lists eight points related to information given by the township to the auditor’s office. “The financial forecast is based on our judgment, considering present circumstances, of the expected conditions and our expected course of action,” one of the points said.

Trustees “should go through the eight items and agree or disagree on each one and ask the fiscal office to provide a copy of what was submitted so we can agree with the assumptions,” Miller wrote.

The township will end this year in the black but next year is expected to have to make cuts to balance its budget.

Leicht said the two trustees’ refusal to sign the letter is between them and the state auditor’s office.

The letter is part of the fiscal analysis trustees asked the state to do.

“If they weren’t going to sign the letter, they shouldn’t have requested the analysis,” Leicht said.

Steve Faulkner, a spokesman for the state auditor’s office, said this “is an unusual situation” and added: “We are reviewing the situation to determine how to proceed.”

Gallitto said she won’t sign it because she can’t verify what the auditors were given. She said she made that decision and informed Leicht of it last month, before the election.

Since Leicht has signed the letter, Gallitto wonders why his signature isn’t sufficient.

“It’s the responsibility of the fiscal office to provide that information,” she said.

Miller said she believes there have been problems in the past with information coming from Leicht.

“Our data has been erratic, unpredictable and incorrect,” she said.

The eight items also involve assumptions on expected revenue and expenses, a statement that those signing the letter find the financial forecast “reasonable and appropriate” and “reliable.”

Leicht also is at odds with two former members of the Easter Seals of Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.

Leicht is chairman of the Easter Seals board of trustees, from which two members have resigned because of a disagreement over the handling of fiscal matters.

Carl A. Nunziato and Nicholas J. Zennario submitted the resignations in a joint letter dated Oct. 31.

They say that the organization “has been reticent, for years, in reducing expenses — in light of withering income sources — relying instead on withdrawals from our endowment accounts to cover operating expenses. All this in the face of year after year of fiscal deficits.”

Leicht, who formerly served as the board vice chairman, said that donations to the organization, such as with most nonprofit agencies, have been reduced because of the flagging economy.

“They keep referring to our restricted donations as endowments, and they’re not,” Leicht said, referring to the two board members.

The organization’s legal counsel and the certified public accountants who handle financial issues agree, he said.

Joseph Sedzmak, an Easter Seals board member “off and on” for about 15 years, says he’s satisfied with the way the organization is operating and utilizing its finances.

The restricted donations say the money can’t be used for salaries, Leicht said. They haven’t been, he said.

The organization has cut back to deal with the decreasing income including reductions to programs serving economically disadvantaged. More of those cuts may be needed, he said.


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