Wednesday, December 20, 2000

State slams village finances


Harveysburg put on fiscal watch

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HARVEYSBURG — The state auditor's office declared this tiny Warren County village under fiscal watch Tuesday in a move that left one former village official questioning its future.

        “The village must bring its finances under control,” Auditor Jim Petro said.

        The office's 1998-99 audit, which is to be released in the coming weeks, found Harveysburg, population about 500, had deficits as of Dec. 31, 1999 equal to a quarter of its annual revenue. A fiscal watch is issued when deficits are more than 1/12th of revenue.

        The village also did not have enough money in its bank accounts, the auditor's report said.
       

Meeting with auditor
        Village leaders declined to comment on the report before a meeting with the auditor's office today.

        Two other Greater Cincinnati communities — Silverton and Corwin — have been put under a fiscal watch since the program began in 1996.

        Fiscal watch is less serious than a fiscal emergency. The former will bring technical help and suggestions for spending cuts from the auditor's office. A fiscal emergency would trigger formation of a group to oversee village finances.

        That doesn't doesn't mean Harveysburg's troubles are less serious. The village would have qualified for a fiscal emergency last December, the auditor said, but the books are so muddled it's impossible to tell if that's still the case.

        Once the auditor's office helps get the records in order, it will analyze 2000 finances.

High turnover
        . There has been high turnover in the village. Harveysburg is on its third mayor in six months, and its second clerk. The seven-member council has two new faces and one empty seat.

        Rick Duvelius, a former village councilman and administrator, said it may be time for Harveysburg to dissolve into Massie Township.

        “It's a matter of economy of scale,” he said. “You have two little governments half a mile apart, and we're paying for the township already.”

       



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