Former fair board treasurer says state erred with audit

Struggling for funds is nothing new for the entity that runs the Washington County Fair each year but this month the Ohio Auditor of State’s office has found additional discrepancies and is holding a former treasurer accountable.

But former treasurer Richard “Dick” Henthorn says the auditing agency that submitted the report to the state is mistaken.

“I don’t do business that way, I never have and I don’t ever plan on it,” he said.

The auditor’s office has issued a $12,751 finding for recovery against Henthorn for the fiscal year ending in November. 2015. The report notes a discrepancy of documentation for $3,224 used to supply cash to concession stands and vending machines for the 2015 fair and an additional shortage of $9,527 from the total net revenue for cash spending in that year.

“Cash payments are a symptom of sloppy government bookkeeping,” said Auditor Dave Yost, in a press release. “The agricultural society (fair board) needs to remedy this accounting headache with a payment method that leaves a detailed record of every expense.”

Henthorn said the discepancy of $3,244 was a mistake in how the cash was reported on the computer accounting software.

“This is my mistake when I logged it in on the Quicken report as money coming in and a check coming out,” he explained. “It was in the Pepsi money… That is a check I have a copy of to get startup money that went into the Pepsi machine to get it going so it can give change. When that comes back (the removed funds) get put back in.”

The other discrepancy of $9,527 Henthorn said is a mistake on the part of the external auditing agency, Julain & Grube, Inc.

“The original accountant that did this took numbers out of context on my records,” Henthorn said. “He didn’t know where they were going and they never called and asked me. They just wanted the gate agent’s records but when (the gate agent) sent them his total, he didn’t break out the big portion of that which was his fee.”

Other findings noted in the 2015 report include repeated indebtedness in excess of 25 percent of annual revenues for concurrent years and lack of pre-numbered tickets at the gates for the fair and from a Fourth of July event.

Dominic Binkley, public information officer for the state office, said while there is no deadline in terms of repayment requirements, the fair board is expected to resolve the finding for recovery on its own by March 9.

“The fair board and its legal counsel has 120 days from the date they receive the final audit report to resolve the finding for recovery themselves,” said Binkley. “If they fail to do so, the (Ohio) Attorney General may pursue recovery of the funds.”

Henthorn said he and his lawyer sent the needed documentation to clarify the discrepancies on Nov. 10 to Julian & Grube after receiving notice from them on Aug. 25 that there were discrepancies.

“I’ve gone through audits before and afterward, and the one for 2016 was OK, but they’re trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill here,” said Henthorn. “It balances out and we’ve been trying to prove that to them that there’s nothing missing. Why would I lend them money so that I could keep them above board and they could pay their people and then take money? I didn’t do it, I have nothing to hide.”

He said he had previously lent the board $20,000 to pay the bills in 2015 and had been paid back in full.

Henthorn also said he has no plans to provide $12,751 “out of his checking account” while awaiting a resolution to the issue.

Former Fair Board President Dean McCoy said he doesn’t believe the funds are missing and current Fair Board President Kurt Bohlen said the board will be cooperating with the investigation to get the findings resolved.

At a glance

¯ The Ohio Auditor of State office is holding a former treasurer of the Washington County Fair Board accountable for discrepancies in ticket revenue and change funds from the 2015 fair.

¯ The auditor issued a $12,751 finding for recovery against former treasurer Richard Henthorn last week.

¯ Henthorn says the discrepancies can be remedied with existing documentation.

¯ The Washington County Fair Board has until March 9 to resolve the issue.

Source: Times research.