The Athens County Board of Elections Office
The Athens County Board of Elections Office (WOUB File Photo)

Athens Co. BOE Disputes Characterization of State Auditor’s Findings

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ATHENS, Ohio — The chairperson of the Athens County Board of Elections said the organization made changes to timesheets and other policy after a state audit found they overpaid employees.

“To resolve this problem the BOE has revised the time sheet layout,” Board Chairperson Kate McGuckin wrote in a statement.

State Auditor Keith Faber announced Thursday that eight Board of Elections employees were overpaid a total of $1,603 in fiscal year 2018.

Auditors reviewed employee timesheets and found that the Board of Elections reported hours for a nine-day work week on some occasions.

This error was due to the County Auditor’s payroll submission deadline each pay period being mid-day on Friday at the end of each pay cycle, combined with the timecards used by the board previously being set up as eight days the first week of a pay-period and six days the second week.

“The BOE time sheets accurately reflected the actual hours worked, but there was confusion regarding which week in the pay period to post these hours,” McGuckin wrote.

“…after the $1,603 in overtime payment (one month over two pay periods) the amount was immediately reimbursed by the Director and Deputy Director from their personal funds. No monies from either County funds or taxpayer funds were used.”

Faber characterized the error as “sloppy financial organization.”

McGuckin disputed that characterization, claiming it was “a simple clerical error” that happened during a busy time for the board.

“During election time office activities extend beyond the normal working hours,” she wrote. “This is mandated by the Ohio Secretary of State and includes Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays to accommodate Athens County voters.”

Auditors also took issue with a lack of human resources controls, writing that the board did not have a human resources department at the time of the audit.

“Part time employees of the Board of Elections are hired by the opposite political party supervisor. For example, an individual working for the democratic party of the Board of Elections is hired by the Republican party Director. There is no evidence that these hires are approved by the governing board of the department. It was also noted that some of these hires had familial relationships with existing employees working in the Board of Elections department. This matter has been referred to the Ohio Ethics Commission.”

Two of the employees listed as being overpaid were the director’s brother and husband.

“New policies have been written by a working group of the board and staff to prevent further misunderstandings,” McGukin wrote.

“There was no intent to defraud taxpayers…All employees have completed the Secretary of State Ethics Policy Acknowledgment Forms and have complied with Ohio ethics law and the Secretary of State Ethics Policy.”