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Tom B
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  02:37:14 AM  Show Profile  Visit Tom B's Homepage  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

What is our school's financial future? With the board saying virtually nothing, it is impossible to fully know. Some of their silence is probably due to lack of public demand to be informed. Far more people in Monroe seem upset over the city's funding. That is a debate about if we will have a $3M or $5M positive cash balance three years from now, plenty of time for Council to resolve things in a positive manner.

Our school budget problems are not years away, but right in front of us. Just to make THIS year’s payroll, the district was forced to borrow $1.5M in August. Unlike previous years, this is not a very short term loan, to be paid off in just two months when the county auditor finally gets around to releasing district funding.

In tonight’s board meeting, the 5 Year Forecast was released and passed, on a 3-2 vote. Why 3-2? It is a great question, but there are no answers. Chris Snyder voted no, saying only “I don’t agree with it”. Board President Mike Lane also voted no, but made no comment whatsoever. And this was the last opportunity to do so before the November 8th election. But their silence speaks volumes, and the 5 Year Forecast says a lot as well. Here are some key points.

The district ended FY 11 with a positive cash balance of $271,381. During the last three years, district spending exceeded revenues by $351,206, an average of $117,068 per year.

This year alone, district losses are anticipated to be $1,689,585, and its year in cash balance is projected to be $ -1,418,144. Next year’s losses are expected to be $2,555,448.

Even more ominous is the district's anticipated but unexplained $1,400,000 in income from Ohio’s Department of Education in account 2.02 - State Emergency Loans and Advancements. As was explained in the September board meeting by the state’s manager of fiscal watch/warning/emergency programs, to even qualify for this funding, the district must be in Fiscal Emergency. When a district is in fiscal emergency, it cedes all control of its spending to the state’s appointed fiscal officer.

Without internal district information it is difficult to assess how long it will take to dig out of this situation. But this was enough bad news for one day in any case.

Tom Birdwell

Opinions written here are mine alone, and may not reflect the views of other board members.


Anyways
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  07:39:51 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

So where's Dr. Lolli's accountability in all this?

Oh, I forgot, she's wonderful.
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Dannyboy
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  08:29:25 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

Here comes the levy.
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sunflower23
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  12:52:33 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

So is the District in Fiscal Emergency?If so,why doesn't the Board say anything about it? Mike Lane and Chris Snyder are two peas in a pod.Lane votes the way his buddy does.The fact that Lane had nothing to say speaks volumes.I have not been agreement with some of Tom Birdwell's board decisions over the years,but he represents the best candidate among the three,in the aspect that(hopefully) he will point out financial hodgepodge.Leeds is big buddies with Snyder/Lane.
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Doc
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  1:01:16 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

I can't help but think that if JB had a horse in THIS race that there wouldn't be the same things thrown at the school board as has been thrown at me and City Council as a whole.
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sunflower23
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  1:08:27 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

Jonny Bench?
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Doc
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  1:24:23 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

Joey Buttafuoco
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Bretland
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  1:27:46 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

it's more fun to throw at you and the Council.....................:)

"There are 10 types of people in this world. Those who understand binary, and those that don't."
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Tom B
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  1:31:32 PM  Show Profile  Visit Tom B's Homepage  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

quote:
[i]Originally posted by sunflower23[/i]
[br]So is the District in Fiscal Emergency?If so,why doesn't the Board say anything about it? Mike Lane and Chris Snyder are two peas in a pod.Lane votes the way his buddy does.The fact that Lane had nothing to say speaks volumes.I have not been agreement with some of Tom Birdwell's board decisions over the years,but he represents the best candidate among the three,in the aspect that(hopefully) he will point out financial hodgepodge.Leeds is big buddies with Snyder/Lane.



It is not yet in fiscal emergency. Getting there is a three stage process that will go into the winter/spring. First Fiscal Watch, then 60 days later Fiscal Warning, then 60 days later Fiscal Emergency.

But the budget forecast, with a $1.5M negative cash balance at year end, INCLUDES the $1.4M in emergency state loans that can only be obtained if you are in Fiscal Emergency. The forecast shows it is expected. Take the $1.4M in emergency aid away, and the year end negative balance goes to almost $3M.

Tom Birdwell

Opinions written here are mine alone, and may not reflect the views of other board members.


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Doc
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  1:36:56 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

Tom, you've got my vote BUT you damn well better get in there, figure this s#!t out, inform the public on the who/what/when/where/why's, and find a way out of this mess.

But the MOST important thing is communicate the good, and more importantly, the bad.


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Dannyboy
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  1:38:23 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

WTF. We went from, "everything is great" to "WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!" in a month. This is why no one trusts or likes government.
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Tom B
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  1:59:39 PM  Show Profile  Visit Tom B's Homepage  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

quote:
[i]Originally posted by Anyways[/i]
[br]So where's Dr. Lolli's accountability in all this?

Oh, I forgot, she's wonderful.



There is no way to avoid the fact that this was a major breech of public trust. But of all close to this, Superintendent Lollie is the least responsible. People think the Superintendent controls all spending or that the treasurer works for her, and that is NOT the case. While she controls all educational funding, many large business activities are directly managed by the treasurer. Things like the $600K Xerox contract, utility rate negotiations, etc.

Two things are absolute. It is the treasurer's job to accurately account for money, and limit spending to what the district can afford and has budgeted. The board has only two direct employees, the superintendent and treasurer. It is the board's job, not Dr. Lollie's, to supervise the treasurer. They also approve all major spending. In doing so, the overspending should have been caught, despite the fund manipulations that it seems the treasurer conducted. While she did not have board permission to move money out of the bond fund, the extra spending should have been apparent when the board approved the spending resolutions. I believe that the dramatically reduced board experience of the last two years played a big role here.

Just my opinion.




Tom Birdwell

Opinions written here are mine alone, and may not reflect the views of other board members.


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sportsnut
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  3:29:45 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

quote:
[i]Originally posted by Tom B[/i]
I believe that the dramatically reduced board experience of the last two years played a big role here.

Just my opinion.







Tom,

I respect what you are saying here BUT, why weren't there better controls put in place to avoid this kind of disaster. With all the experience that previous boards had, and controls that are in place from the business world to not allow these kinds of mistakes to occur, why weren't checkpoints inserted into the school's process? This board may be inexperienced, but this should have been prevented by controls that were put into place when the district was formed.

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John Beagle
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  4:01:47 PM  Show Profile  Visit John Beagle's Homepage  Reply with Quote Report Abuse



Source: 2012-Five-Year-Forecast

Executive Summary



From the Executive Summary:
"The district spent more than its revenue in 2010 and 2011 and projections show this trend continuing
without responsive adjustments in revenue and/or expenditures. This revenue shortfall is referred to
as a structural operating deficit. In addition the district borrowed $1.0 million for cash flow purposes in
2011 and has already borrowed $1.4 million to meet current cash flow deficits."




"I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody" #BillCosby
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John Beagle
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  4:12:43 PM  Show Profile  Visit John Beagle's Homepage  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

The district’s remedy is to develop a strategic plan to reduce projected expenditures and/or increase projected revenue.




"I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody" #BillCosby
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Doc
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  4:44:42 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

I couldn't quite tunnel deep enough into your PC hard drive to view the Executive Summary PDF file.
The farthest I could get was c:\webdir\mainstreetmonroe.com\pdf\ but there's no directory structure in your hard drive for me to look at it.

Just sayin'.
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John Beagle
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  4:48:42 PM  Show Profile  Visit John Beagle's Homepage  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

That's because it's hosted on our server. Just needed the www

all fixed now.

quote:
[i]Originally posted by Doc[/i]
[br]I couldn't quite tunnel deep enough into your PC hard drive to view the Executive Summary PDF file.
The farthest I could get was c:\webdir\mainstreetmonroe.com\pdf\ but there's no directory structure in your hard drive for me to look at it.

Just sayin'.


"I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody" #BillCosby
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Doc
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  4:49:38 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

I'm just funnin' with ya.
Thanks.
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John Beagle
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  6:29:08 PM  Show Profile  Visit John Beagle's Homepage  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

As I read the executive summary, I can't figure a way for the school district to avoid fiscal emergency or worse. We have an operating deficit in the range of $1.4 million to $1.6 million PLUS we need to establish an adequate cash balance.

In addition to the structural operating deficit trend there are cash balance liabilities that may exist such as 'cash flow borrowing' recording inaccuracy; revenue posting to the general fund rather than the correct fund and five federal grants with negative unencumbered balances; debt service payments paid on debt and leases subsequent to the original bond issuance; and other items. See the executive summary for more details.

In summary, the district has these two big problems:
1. Operating Revenue Shorfall $1.4 Million by 2014
2. Legacy cash balance items totaling $1.3 Million.

Plus a whole host of other problems including the legality of some of the mistakes that were made in posting and paying from the wrong funds.

"Legal counsel and auditors should be consulted to determine the propriety of such expenditures."

- Ken Ulm, Interim Treasurer.


"I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody" #BillCosby
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Dannyboy
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Posted - 10/25/2011 :  10:02:22 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

Somebody needs to get locked up for this.
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Tom B
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Posted - 10/26/2011 :  04:10:28 AM  Show Profile  Visit Tom B's Homepage  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

quote:
[i]Originally posted by sportsnut[/i][br]
Tom,
I respect what you are saying here BUT, why weren't there better controls put in place to avoid this kind of disaster.


The board and/or the state auditors have not yet released enough information to completely understand how this happened, so your question is difficult to fully answer. And with a state investigation ongoing, I don't know how much they can say at this time. But central to the whole problem was the bond fund, established to pay for the new school building.

The ODE representative shared in the September board meeting that roughly $1.5M was taken from the fund by the treasurer and used for other purposes. Frankly, I was astonished to learn that much extra money was in the fund. The way this is supposed to work is that the district determines the exact amount needed each year to make the payments on the new school. Then every year, the county auditor sets a millage rate sufficient to collect that much in taxes, and no more. There shouldn’t be a lot of extra money there to be misused in the first place.

The apparent falsification of records by the treasurer made it difficult for the board to see that money was being improperly moved from fund to fund. But the annual outside audit noted this was happening for at least two years. As is common in a large number of Ohio districts, the audit findings and all other relevant information is compiled in a separate annual report, the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR. The audit findings were never included in the CAFR. So anyone reading the CAFR, instead of the original audit report would not have seen the problem.

Finally, the money transferred from the bond fund was spent. And it was in amounts great enough to be noticed, i.e. spending exceeding budget. That was the best opportunity to catch this. I don’t understand why it was not, but given how well the treasurer concealed other things…

Bottom line is that this required multiple failures of the controls for this to happen. We are all going to have to wait for the state investigation to run its course to find out exactly which were the most critical and why they did not work.

Tom Birdwell

Opinions written here are mine alone, and may not reflect the views of other board members.


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retiredmilitary
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Posted - 10/26/2011 :  05:49:41 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

quote:
[i]Originally posted by Tom B[/i]
[br]
quote:
[i]Originally posted by sportsnut[/i][br]
Tom,
I respect what you are saying here BUT, why weren't there better controls put in place to avoid this kind of disaster.


The board and/or the state auditors have not yet released enough information to completely understand how this happened, so your question is difficult to fully answer. And with a state investigation ongoing, I don't know how much they can say at this time. But central to the whole problem was the bond fund, established to pay for the new school building.

The ODE representative shared in the September board meeting that roughly $1.5M was taken from the fund by the treasurer and used for other purposes. Frankly, I was astonished to learn that much extra money was in the fund. The way this is supposed to work is that the district determines the exact amount needed each year to make the payments on the new school. Then every year, the county auditor sets a millage rate sufficient to collect that much in taxes, and no more. There shouldn’t be a lot of extra money there to be misused in the first place.

The apparent falsification of records by the treasurer made it difficult for the board to see that money was being improperly moved from fund to fund. But the annual outside audit noted this was happening for at least two years. As is common in a large number of Ohio districts, the audit findings and all other relevant information is compiled in a separate annual report, the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR. The audit findings were never included in the CAFR. So anyone reading the CAFR, instead of the original audit report would not have seen the problem.

Finally, the money transferred from the bond fund was spent. And it was in amounts great enough to be noticed, i.e. spending exceeding budget. That was the best opportunity to catch this. I don’t understand why it was not, but given how well the treasurer concealed other things…

Bottom line is that this required multiple failures of the controls for this to happen. We are all going to have to wait for the state investigation to run its course to find out exactly which were the most critical and why they did not work.




Tom I appreciate your honesty. To know so much without being on the board. This gives insight but unfortunately no relief. I just hope that the tax payers don't have to pay for some one elses mishandling of the money.
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Anyways
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Posted - 10/26/2011 :  07:39:51 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

I believe the treasurer was hired with the recommendation of Dr. Lolli. And during her time here, the treasurer was always within 5 feet of Dr. Lolli...call them Frick and Frack.

That's just my opinion.

quote:
[i]Originally posted by Tom B[/i]
[br]
quote:
[i]Originally posted by Anyways[/i]
[br]So where's Dr. Lolli's accountability in all this?

Oh, I forgot, she's wonderful.



There is no way to avoid the fact that this was a major breech of public trust. But of all close to this, Superintendent Lollie is the least responsible. People think the Superintendent controls all spending or that the treasurer works for her, and that is NOT the case. While she controls all educational funding, many large business activities are directly managed by the treasurer. Things like the $600K Xerox contract, utility rate negotiations, etc.

Two things are absolute. It is the treasurer's job to accurately account for money, and limit spending to what the district can afford and has budgeted. The board has only two direct employees, the superintendent and treasurer. It is the board's job, not Dr. Lollie's, to supervise the treasurer. They also approve all major spending. In doing so, the overspending should have been caught, despite the fund manipulations that it seems the treasurer conducted. While she did not have board permission to move money out of the bond fund, the extra spending should have been apparent when the board approved the spending resolutions. I believe that the dramatically reduced board experience of the last two years played a big role here.

Just my opinion.





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Dannyboy
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Posted - 10/26/2011 :  07:49:46 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

Tom B's insights are invaluable, and they demonstrate that a systemic failure occurred on the part of the organization. When that happens, everyone at the top has failed. That means the board, the treasurer and the super. Consequences should fall on all of them. That's how I voted, anyway.
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sunflower23
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Posted - 10/26/2011 :  12:41:50 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

Dr.Lolli shares some of the blame for this fiasco just as much as the board.One,her last school district went through the same problem.Two,she is a very bright person and I hardly belive she would not pay close attention to the finances considering that schools run on money.Tom Birdwell has known Dr.Lolli since she worked for Middletown so he will no doubt spin blame away from Dr.Lolli.Tom Birdwell talks about the board inexperience but what about Snyder?He has been on the board for 8 years and is still ignorant about finances?
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Tom B
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Posted - 10/26/2011 :  1:56:57 PM  Show Profile  Visit Tom B's Homepage  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

quote:
[i]Originally posted by Anyways[/i]
[br]I believe the treasurer was hired with the recommendation of Dr. Lolli. And during her time here, the treasurer was always within 5 feet of Dr. Lolli...call them Frick and Frack.




The treasurer was hired 6 months before Dr. Lollie came to Monroe. We didn't even know Arnie Elam would be leaving then.

Tom Birdwell

Opinions written here are mine alone, and may not reflect the views of other board members.


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logicgate
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Posted - 10/26/2011 :  4:42:49 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

quote:
[i]Originally posted by Dannyboy[/i]
[br]Tom B's insights are invaluable, and they demonstrate that a systemic failure occurred on the part of the organization. When that happens, everyone at the top has failed. That means the board, the treasurer and the super. Consequences should fall on all of them. That's how I voted, anyway.



Unfortunately, the only people who will suffer any consequences will be the the staff cut from the buildings (and your children's classrooms) and related services. Very few, if any at the admin. office level will be effected (IMHO)

While I understand the anxiety over this there is still a lot that is not known. What is known is that the pain will fall at the front line of the schools (Kids, teachers, classroom, services)none of which had anything to do with this.

Uggg.....

Under NCLB - Jacque Cousteau did not have enough education to teach your child Marine Biology
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Geranium
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Posted - 10/26/2011 :  5:29:41 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

I don't understand why this isn't getting more attention by the newspapers and media. I want answers!!
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No money
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Posted - 10/27/2011 :  12:15:12 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

????????????????8???????????? any new cars lately??
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buckeyenut
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Posted - 10/27/2011 :  12:02:30 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

Every single resident of Monroe should be fired up over this issue - much more so than the City Council race & whether Mr. Dame is for or against Issue 2.

Somebody did something seriously wrong. Is there an Audit Committee that failed us? Does this go back to the days of Ms. Moon or just Ms. Thorpe? For sure, we will all pay for it in the end with lowered property values, increased taxes, negative image or publicity but the kids will pay most of all when cuts (and there will be cuts) are implemented.

I applaud (quite loudly) that Tom Birdwell is here giving us information and being open & honest. He is willing to jump into this fire feet first, even if it should burn all the way back down to when he was previously on the Board or the District was formed. At this point no one really knows anything.

What I like about Tom is he doesn't play politics. He doesn't "buddy up". He doesn't stay quiet for fear of damaging his reputation. He doesn't even have kids in the classroom. He just wants to do the job.


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Geranium
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Posted - 10/27/2011 :  7:44:03 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

quote:
[i]Originally posted by buckeyenut[/i]
[br]Every single resident of Monroe should be fired up over this issue - much more so than the City Council race & whether Mr. Dame is for or against Issue 2.

Somebody did something seriously wrong. Is there an Audit Committee that failed us? Does this go back to the days of Ms. Moon or just Ms. Thorpe? For sure, we will all pay for it in the end with lowered property values, increased taxes, negative image or publicity but the kids will pay most of all when cuts (and there will be cuts) are implemented.

I applaud (quite loudly) that Tom Birdwell is here giving us information and being open & honest. He is willing to jump into this fire feet first, even if it should burn all the way back down to when he was previously on the Board or the District was formed. At this point no one really knows anything.

What I like about Tom is he doesn't play politics. He doesn't "buddy up". He doesn't stay quiet for fear of damaging his reputation. He doesn't even have kids in the classroom. He just wants to do the job.





I fully agree Buckeyenut!!
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johnwells
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Posted - 10/27/2011 :  10:58:07 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

quote:
[i]Originally posted by buckeyenut[/i]
[br]Every single resident of Monroe should be fired up over this issue - much more so than the City Council race & whether Mr. Dame is for or against Issue 2.

Somebody did something seriously wrong. Is there an Audit Committee that failed us? Does this go back to the days of Ms. Moon or just Ms. Thorpe? For sure, we will all pay for it in the end with lowered property values, increased taxes, negative image or publicity but the kids will pay most of all when cuts (and there will be cuts) are implemented.

I applaud (quite loudly) that Tom Birdwell is here giving us information and being open & honest. He is willing to jump into this fire feet first, even if it should burn all the way back down to when he was previously on the Board or the District was formed. At this point no one really knows anything.

What I like about Tom is he doesn't play politics. He doesn't "buddy up". He doesn't stay quiet for fear of damaging his reputation. He doesn't even have kids in the classroom. He just wants to do the job.






What a great post, I couldn't agree more. If it wasn't for Tom Birdwell and his post over the last few years I would have almost zero understanding of the school finance situation. One thing to me that really speaks to Tom Birdwells character is that he knows where we are and is willing to help with his experience to dig us out of this mess.
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Tom B
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Posted - 10/28/2011 :  03:51:44 AM  Show Profile  Visit Tom B's Homepage  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

It is hard to express just how much the supporting posts of the last few days mean to me. Before it gets out of hand however, I think I must make a couple of comments.

With the information available to me from the outside, I can't tell when the early manipulations of the bond fund started. The first of them may have started under my watch as a board member. Part of the alleged security of the bond fund was that the county auditor is supposed to ensure that excess collections do not occur, and hence are not available to be misused. Even if I had not left the board, I don't know if I would have caught the manipulation of the bond fund. I am more confident that I would have noticed the excess spending that subsequently happened. The difference? Manipulation of the fund to meet short term cash flow needs (borrowing from the fund to fund necessary items till the auditor distributes taxes) can be paid back fairly readily. But excess spending simply can't be pulled back. Both are illegal, but obviously the short term actions do less damage.

As president of the Butler Tech board, I personally spoke to the auditors each year. Not every board member can do this, but it is critical that someone does. The audit reports can be difficult to completely follow, even when one has significant experience. Frankly, that is why Monroe went with the CAFR process(Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) as it takes the sterile, CPA audit report, and makes it readable for all. That the treasurer could so easily manipulate the process, get the outside CAFR company to obfuscate things, caught the board by surprise.

Tom Birdwell

Opinions written here are mine alone, and may not reflect the views of other board members.


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Dannyboy
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Posted - 10/28/2011 :  09:25:09 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote Report Abuse

Too late, Tom. I already voted for you.
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Police Briefs 10/24
 
City
Todhunter Construction to use "No General Funds"
Monroe May Decommission Water Treatment Facility
"Hickman the Only Dissenting Vote"
City Building Drop Off
 
School
Election Results
School Levy Debate Goes Down to the Wire
Give with target - Monroe elementary
School Audit is Complete
 
Political Voice
Democrats want America to fail
Clint Eastwood’s Critical Speech to the RNC
 
For Sale
Miami vs Providence hockey $15 tickets!
#4 Miami Redhawks vs Providence Tickets
 
Real Estate
3 bedroom house for rent - 825
3 bed/2bath townhouse for RENT - $800
 
Wanted
Debts to Collect on Contingency Basis
Drivers Disk for Dell Dimension 3000
 
For Free
Free male neutered cat
free furniture alert
 
Jobs
Earn Money Writing Articles for Local Events
Guy & Eva Style Advisor
 
Charter Review
Charter Review Commission 2011 Recommendations
Section 7.13 Public Hearing on Zoning Ordinance or
 
Veterans
Veterans Memorial Dedication May 22@6
Monroe Veterans Memorial Video
 
Memorial
Geneva Wells of Monroe, Ohio
In Remembrance of Alice Rose Salzman
 
Prayer Requests
Prayers for Kenny Ellis & Family
Prayers Needed
 
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Main Street Monroe was started by Monroe, Ohio resident John Beagle in 1998