State: Ex-Liberty school treasurer must repay $5K

Published: Wed, April 4, 2012 @ 12:04 a.m.

State: Ex-Liberty school treasurer must repay $5K

By Robert Guttersohn


Liberty Local Schools’ former Treasurer Tracey Obermiyer overpaid herself $4,920 in fiscal year 2010 and must pay it back, according to a state audit of the school’s finances released Tuesday.

According to the audit, Obermiyer paid herself that amount without board of education approval while working with Liberty’s former conversion schools, Liberty Early Academic Resource Nest and Liberty Exemplary Academic Design.

The fiscal year 2010 audit, which began after Obermiyer’s resig-nation and examined the district’s financial records between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010, cited “a failure of treasurer to perform duties” and reveals the financial mess — including hundreds of thousands of dollars in overstated revenue — that led the state auditor’s office to deem the district’s financial records “unauditable” in 2011.

State Auditor Dave Yost said in a press release Tuesday that a finding for recovery for the $4,920 “was issued against Obermiyer for public monies illegally expended.” The state auditor’s office forwarded the finding for recovery to the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s office Tuesday.

The audit backed up school officials who long maintained that although Obermiyer was authorized to be the treasurer for the Liberty school district and its two conversion schools at that time, never was she to be paid extra for her work with the conversion schools.

“The power to write the checks doesn’t give you permission to write extra ones to yourself,” said Yost. “This money must be returned to the taxpayers.”

Auditors are still examining the school’s 2011 financial records.

Other findings:

Throughout fiscal year 2010, hundreds of thousands of dollars in property-tax revenue was recorded as if the district had received funds. Those funds never arrived, resulting in overstatements in the general fund of $1.1 million in 2010 and $454,000 in the district’s bond fund, the audit said.

The district’s financial records were not reconciled with its bank for all of fiscal year 2010.

Large sums of money were transferred without board of education approval.

In one such unauthorized transfer the audit reported, Obermiyer sent $400,000 from the district’s general fund to its self-insured reserve fund, which it uses to pay insurance claims. The reserve is supposed to be funded by premiums withheld from employee paychecks.

Phone calls to Obermiyer to comment on the audit were not returned.

She currently is the business manager for LEARN and LEAD, now operating under the Portage County Educational Service Center, said Cheryl Emrich, the center’s executive director.

Emrich would not comment on the fate of Obermiyer’s position with the two schools.

SDLqThis is pretty much what we knew to be the case,” Stan Watson, superintendent since August 2010, said of the audit report. “It’s a very disappointing situation.”

Watson said the district’s deficit, which is currently at $1.9 million, was not caused by the “dysfunctional” bookkeeping but was masked by it.

“The deficit would have been there, I believe, even without the dysfunctional bookkeeping,” he said. “It may not have been as big, but it would still be there.”

In a Feb. 7, 2011, letter, the state auditor deemed the district’s finances “unauditable” due to missing bank statements and a budget that was not being reconciled with the district’s bank.

In a subsequent letter, the Ohio Department of Education said the district was in danger of falling into fiscal emergency. The district entered fiscal emergency July 11, 2011.

After being pressed for answers by the board, Obermiyer resigned in April 2011. After her resignation, three state auditors worked on the district’s records for fiscal years 2010 and 2011.

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