Friday, September 21, 2001

Burg's money woes worsen

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HARVEYSBURG — The state auditor on Thursday declared Harveysburg in a fiscal emergency and ordered a state and local commission formed to oversee its monetary operations.

        “The oversight commission will help the village stabilize its finances,” said Auditor Jim Petro.

        The village was put on fiscal watch Dec. 19, 2000.

        On July 31, the village had a treasury deficit of $73,397, Mr. Petro said. According to state guidelines, that, along with other financial circumstances, triggers a fiscal emergency declaration.

        Soon, a financial planning and supervision commission will form with: a treasurer's representative, the director of the state Office of Budget and Management, the mayor, the presiding officer of council and three appointed people chosen from among five names provided to the governor by the mayor and council.

        The last three must be from the village and have at least five years of private-sector experience.

        Mr. Petro said the commission will have broad oversight power to reduce spending, stablize village finances and write a credible five-year plan to encourage financial stability. The commission will also develop a financial recovery plan, prepared by the village, within 120 days of the commission's first meeting.

        When stability is restored, the commission will disband.

        Harveysburg has been plagued with financial trouble for some time.

        Last year, a dispute arose when the village owed the county about $62,000 in water reserve money, stemming from a deal in which the county agreed to take over the village's $186,000 water debt.

        In April, the former village administrator, Kimble Grant, was ordered to spend six months in the Warren County Jail, with the exception of time spent at work. He allegedly spent $7,821 of the village's money on himself, mostly through charges on village credit cards. He is repaying it.

        Mayor Ray Roberts Sr. could not be reached for comment on the emergency Thursday, and the village offices had closed for the day. Police Chief Harold Adkins said of the emergency, “We knew it was coming.”

        Currently, nine Ohio municipalities are in a fiscal emergency. The auditor inspects the books of about 5,000 state and local governments yearly to determine their financial condition.


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