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Liberty schools face fiscal mess



Published: Thu, May 26, 2011 @ 12:08 a.m.

District treasurer resigns abruptly; state says it’s missing financial records

By Jeanne Starmack

starmack@vindy.com

LIBERTY

The school district is facing the prospect of fiscal-emergency status, and its treasurer has resigned, leaving unanswered questions about why she didn’t give the state records for audits.

Tracey Obermiyer, who was with the district for about seven years, resigned in a letter April 29, said board President Diana DeVito. The resignation was accepted at the board’s May 5 meeting and becomes effective May 31.

In her president’s report for the board’s Monday meeting, DeVito outlined the circumstances that led to the resignation, which she said was a surprise. She also said the board has asked the state to certify the district’s debt to determine if it is more than 15 percent against the budget, indicating the district should be in fiscal emergency.

She told The Vindicator Tuesday that “we believe it’s more than 15 percent, but we just don’t know.” She said the certification process will take time, and the district may know by fall.

She said she does not believe Obermiyer is the cause of the district’s financial distress. The problems were caused by “the current system of funding public education in Ohio” and by the fact that voters turned down levies twice in recent years, she contended.

“Nevertheless, we have been formally notified by correspondence from the state auditor’s office that the district’s books were unable to be audited and that the information requested of our treasurer for over six months had not been provided,” her report states.

In a letter sent Feb. 7, the auditor’s office said it has been unable to obtain bank reconciliations from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010; bank statements for July and August 2010; Generally Accepted Accounting Practices financial statements and related footnotes; and budgetary documentation.

The auditor’s office threatened legal action.

The board also received a letter from the Ohio Department of Education that says Obermiyer didn’t provide reports to a department fiscal consultant who’s monitoring the district because of its fiscal-caution status, which it’s been under since January 2010.

ODE’s letter also said Liberty school board “regularly approves financial reports at your monthly meetings that may not have been reconciled with your bank ... other districts exhibiting similar fiduciary practices have found themselves in fiscal-emergency conditions, often without their prior knowledge or with little warning.”

DeVito said the board told the treasurer it would discuss the letters with her at its April meeting, but she didn’t attend the meeting.

DeVito then sent Obermiyer a letter April 26 seeking information about the condition of the district’s accounting and the state’s concerns. She said the letter included a directive that Obermiyer respond to the state’s requests.

Instead of an answer, the board got her resignation letter, DeVito said.

It appointed James Wilson, assistant treasurer of payroll, as interim treasurer.

An independent auditing firm is looking at the district’s records, DeVito said. She referred other questions about Obermiyer to Cleveland law firm Britton, Smith Peters and Kalail.

Atty. John Britton, who said he is the district’s regular legal counsel, reiterated that the district has no reason at this point to believe Obermiyer was engaged in any criminal misconduct. He said there is no criminal investigation going on right now.

The district believes “everything is there. We’re just organizing it and collecting it,” he said.

Obermiyer could not be reached for comment. Britton said her resignation letter indicated she was leaving for “personal reasons.”


Comments

1piak(508 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

The problems were caused by “the current system of funding public education in Ohio” and by the fact that voters turned down levies twice in recent years, she contended.

Blame the people! Blame the State! Blame everybody. Why not?

Why are school systems going into "Fiscal Emergencies"? Keep "looking into the situation". The problem is as plain as the nose on your face.

Continue your senseless campaign against SB5; meanwhile Ohio continues marching on to financial disaster.

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2mike10(84 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

"leaving for “personal reasons.”" It's called jail time.

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3Nunya(1356 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

@ piak

Wrong as usual,..

First of all allow me to state that I'm a " NO VOTE ON SB5 " and it's not via any partisan politics either,.. I just don't condone theft, totalitarian control nor slavery.

This is theft by a criminal and or criminals as employees. There's no Union that advocates theft and no measure in the slave labor salutation SB5 that can avert it either.

It's called violating the public trust that an array of jobs / positions entrusts that individuals won't do. In this case as treasurer Tracey Obermiyer is one that chose to steal.

Irony here is John Kasich himself knows it. Because no Union could have stopped him from ripping off the Ohio retiree fund for multi millions prior to his perch in office.

Wanna try to dispel that?.

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4Nunya(1356 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

@ mike10

Somewhat,..

But clearly she's trying to avoid jail. She used some of that stolen money to hire some legal beagles. Where surely she'll offer some drunkard, narcotic addiction, gambling obsession or family hardships as some form of alibi.

The question now is just how much she stole and how long she was given by that board and superintendent to do it.

When she failed to comply with the state's request. She should have been addressed in a manner of review and enforcement,.. she wasn't.

When she ducked that alleged April scheduled meeting. By the magnitude and access to financial conflict. She should have been remanded to immediately have an internal audit most haste,.. she wasn't.

She wasn't and this went on until she fled on her terms. To wit no doubt those books are going to be a mess to reconstruct.

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5Cicero(34 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Obermeiyer was failing to file proper reports for 16 months and nobody knew? C'mon. You want to tell me that the State did not contact the Supt. or Board about this long before now? Seems seven people were " asleep at the switch" - 2 Supts. ( Lucas and Watson) and the 5 Board members. This is an SB5 neutral issue - it would have had zero impact on this. Nunya and plak - stay on topic!

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6Nunya(1356 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

This is beyond a shame,..

First off " Cicero " know your role and I don't care if you don't like my dismantling " Piak " falsely floating some SB5 representation in such short order..

Or if any semblance of my openly expressing that I'm a " NO VOTE ON SB5 "

Where upon discussion the SB5 mime and me as a NO VOTE ON SB5. Shared our perspectives and mutually made our positions clear. For which reflected our difference in knowledge, values and perspectives,.. and I didn't leave it to question.

For which not only is internal theft becoming far too common place and ruining society. Where I don't condone any type of theft or deception.

However, when you find those that will rip off kids and the elderly retirees. It's without question you've got the most reprehensible thief and or thieves known to man.

You can rehab the proverbial baloney and loaf of bread grifter. However, there's no rehabilitation for when they get so far gone they'll steal from kids, the entire community and the elderly / retirees,.. by any method.

Thus again I'm a voice and individual-- NO VOTE ON SB5

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7repeaters(191 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

This story doesn't say that the boards (past and present members) disected the Liberty School System and created two conversion community (charter schools) WITHOUT taxpayers approval or knowledge. So now Liberty has three school districts. Since Liberty School is the SPONSOR of the two community schools, it may shift financial resources (taxpayer dollars) to these community schools that were suppose to create a profit. Now state funds and grants are drying up. Tthe question is, who got screwed funding those 124 students, the taxpayers of Liberty or the State of Ohio( funding is either by vouchers or grants for charter schools). Smoking guns and mirrors...Tracy knows and she will decide if her and her familys respect is worth more than being the fall guy.

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8Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

The mindset is that there is no financial problem that a good hefty tax increase wont solve . The tax slaves have said that they have had enough . The special ones are furious that the slaves have revolted . Taxing the slaves to the limit one more time is still uppermost on the minds of the special ones . . . ..

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9mvo(7 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

I think I'm missing something. Where in this article did it say anything about money being missing? Where does it say that anyone stole anything? My impression, from reading the material presented, is that perhaps Ms. Obermiyer has problems with organization, recordkeeping, documentation, etc., but I don't see where anyone is accusing her of any type of theft. Whether there is more to this remains to be seen, but I don't understand why the Vindicator allows people (mike10 and Nunya, for example) to print statements (their statements are presented as statements, not opinions) on this forum saying that she stole money, and trashing her reputation before all the facts are presented.

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10TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

I guess she's just guilty of incompetence.

"Taxing the slaves to the limit one more time is still uppermost on the minds of the special ones . . . .."
So i guess having the slaves turn against each other works for you Stan. I didn't realize you were that wealthy. The real enemies are the people pulling the strings, not the people trying to buy a house or put food on their table or raise a family in the valley.

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