SHELBY – Shelby Municipal Court accounting practices remain in hot water, both by the Ohio Auditor of State and some City Council members.
The most recently released state audit, which reviews the calendar year 2022, was the center of discussion at Monday night’s council meeting.
2022 audit confirms repeating pattern
Councilmember Garland Gates reported to council significant deficiencies were found in the municipal court’s monthly bank reconciliations, a recurring issue that dates back to 2017.
In a previous interview with Richland Source, Brian Crum, director of finance for the city, explained the problem began in 2018, when the city received the state’s audit of the court from 2017.
It was determined then the court was not properly reconciling its bank accounts.
In bookkeeping, a bank reconciliation is the process by which the bank account balance in an entity’s books of account is reconciled to the balance reported by the bank.
Any difference between the two figures needs to be examined and, if appropriate, rectified.
As Gates read from the audit report, he noted that the same finding was flagged on the 2021 audit and has been repeated again.
“I had hoped that by the time of my departure from city council, that this matter might be resolved,” Gates said. “I have no hope that will happen.”
Gates has served on city council for 24 years and did not seeking re-election in 2023.
‘Clerk of courts must be replaced’ says Gates
Previously, during a January council discussion, Gates said he expressed the matter at hand would only be corrected by replacing current clerk of courts Shannon Small.
In his previous Richland Source interview, Crum said Small, who began in 2018, struggled with bank reconciliation and didn’t know how to fix the current accounts.
Crum said instead of asking for help to rectify the situation, Small simply let it go.
“This problem first occurred in 2017,” Gates said. “Until there is a new person in this position, we are going to continue with this problem.”
Back in April, Councilman Nathan Martin threatened legislative action after Crum shared that two of Shelby Municipal Court’s accounts were not reconciled with the bank.
Crum stated on April 3 that the court’s civil account was off by $3,700 and the criminal account was off by $3,600.
He noted these accounts have not been balanced for many years, throughout multiple personnel changes with the clerk of courts.
An ordinance, sponsored by Martin, to reduce the clerk of courts salary to $1, passed at the June 5 council meeting, but was vetoed nine days later by Mayor Steve Schag.
Monday, Martin said his opinion on the issue remains the same.
“It’s beyond ridiculous, to the point of parody, the fact that it’s still going on,” he said. “I certainly hope that changes will be made, sooner or later.”
Shelby Municipal Court Judge on November ballot
In June, Martin also rebuked Shelby Municipal Court Judge Sheree Studer for not removing or asking for the resignation of Small.
Studer was elected for a six-year term in November 2017 and seeks re-election in November.
Challenging Studer on the ballot is Jonathon Elgin, who attended and spoke at Monday’s meeting during public comment.
“Historical errors don’t change,” Elgin said. “Should the voters choose to entrust me with this position (Municipal Court Judge) this fall, first, I will make an appointment of a new clerk of courts.”
Furthermore, Martin said he hopes voters take into consideration the on-going issues within the municipal court when casting their votes this fall.
“We do have a very important election coming up in November,” Martin said. “I certainly hope that everyone takes into account what they’ve heard, and continue to hear, about this going forward.”
Studer did not attend the council meeting.
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