Local governments need to be good fiscal stewards

When the Ohio Auditor’s office found a mistake in the accounting for Adams Township, the township’s fiscal officer quickly paid back the $2,315 in undocumented credit card expenditures. Good. It was important to do so quickly.

But more importantly, Adams Township now has in place measures to avoid repeating such mistakes next year.

According to the state auditor, some purchases made on the card between 2016 and 2017 were not accompanied by proper paperwork.

“From the standpoint of our auditors, this is certainly a case of sloppy bookkeeping and a lack of required documentation,” said Dominic Binkley, public information officer for the auditor’s office. “We believe it is important for taxpayers to know whether their dollars are spent properly.”

Indeed it is; and it appears as though the changes made by Adams Township can give taxpayers that assurance. Because one of the problems was said to be a lack of detailed receipts, particularly for gasoline purchases, there is now a gasoline tank installed at the township yard.

Officials must also be determined to keep meticulous records and regularly remind those who use the credit card that they must get detailed receipts to avoid the appearance of misuse.

We would hope officials have investigated and are satisfied that there was not theft or intentional misuse of the card by township employees. Should that be the case, those folks must be punished for their abuse of taxpayers’ trust.

But for now it seems there has been little damage and Adams Township officials have learned a valuable lesson, with the help of the auditor’s office.

Let us hope the improvements continue, and that other local governments use their example to do an assessment of their own practices in being good stewards of taxpayers’ money.