Sunday, December 24, 2000

State audit finds illegal spending

Village put under fiscal watch

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HARVEYSBURG — A former village administrator illegally spent almost $7,000, most of it through personal charges on village credit cards and checks to himself, according to a draft of a state audit obtained by the Enquirer.

        The losses add up to about 6 1/4 percent of the annual general fund budget for Harveysburg, a village of 500 in northern Warren County.

        State auditor Jim Petro's office has discussed its findings with the Warren County Prosecutor's Office, an auditor's spokesman said Friday.

    The breakdown of the $6,915.90 allegedly misspent by former Harveysburg Administrator Kimble Grant:
    • $735 in two checks he wrote to himself.
    • $663.44 paid on leases for two computers at his home.
    • $1,777.12 charged to a Lowe's credit card.
    • $1,039.39 charged to a Sam's Club card.
    • $1,705.20 charged to a Staples card.
    • $630.40 for mileage that wasn't properly tracked.
    • $365.35 the clerk overpaid Mr. Grant for his salary.
    Source: Draft state audit

        Administrator Kimble Grant, who quit in January 2000, allegedly used village credit cards to buy everything from a washing machine to picture frames.

        He declined to comment Saturday but the draft audit says he admitted to some personal purchases on Sam's Club and Staples cards. Mr. Grant mixed up his personal and village cards for Sam's Club, he told investigators, and made a payment on the village card when he noticed his mistake.

        The state's 1998-99 audit, which was shared with Harveysburg officials Wednesday, describes a village in financial shambles. Money was illegally moved from one fund to another, several funds showed deficits, and receipts and spending were not always recorded.

        “You hire these people and hope they do their job right,” said ex-Mayor Woody Andrew, who resigned this summer. “The mayor can't baby-sit them.”

        Mr. Petro declared the village under a fiscal watch Tuesday, which will enable audit officials to step in and help organize 2000 records.

        Mr. Grant is not the only person cited. The draft audit holds former clerk/treasurer Melissa Basham responsible for $355.10 because auditors couldn't find records for petty cash spending and the collection of a permit fee.

        The audit also seeks to recover $971.50 that Ms. Basham overpaid herself. Village Council set a monthly salary — $980 by late 1999 — and she incorrectly calculated her biweekly checks by dividing that number in half.

        She figured Mr. Grant's salary the same way.

        “I didn't do anything wrong — I made mistakes,” Ms. Basham said, adding she did not intend to repay the money. “I had no training.”


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