Sunday, December 17, 2000

Deerfield creates fiscal watchdog

Panel formed at urging of state auditor's office

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP — This fast-growing Warren County township has become its own fiscal watchdog by creating a financial oversight committee.

        Township officials say the newly formed group will act as a monitor of the township's books, financial planning and spending.

        The five-member panel was created last month upon the recommendation of the state auditor's office after Deerfield received poor marks on a review of its 1999 finances.

        “The audit did precipitate the formation of this committee,” executive administrator Dan Theno said.

        “However, it is something that should have been done regardless of the audit.”

        The eight-month audit revealed Deerfield Township suffered from expenditure, payroll and bidding problems.

        State officials warned trustees that if certain procedural problems remained unchecked Deerfield could be headed toward a financial crisis.

        Deerfield, the county's largest township, operates on a $24 million budget annually.

        The finance committee, which will convene monthly, won't have any policy-making power, but will serve as an advisory body for the township clerk and trustees.

        The group is composed of township clerk Kristin Spiekerman, three certified public accountants — one being trustees President Bill Mor — and a financial manager.

        “We've got all kinds of number-crunchers on this committee,” said Mr. Theno.

        “The very existence of this high-powered, professional group should reinforce the notion we are trying to be the best custodians of the taxpayers' dollars that we can be, and that we are going to seriously look at any deficiencies we may have in our bookkeeping.”

        The first order of business for the committee, which met Thursday night for the first time, was to review the audit report.

        The board also outlined its mission statement and top fiscal issues to be addressed in the coming year.


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