Chief Fiscal Officer
The County Auditor is Chief Fiscal Officer of the county. It is his/her responsibility to account for the millions of dollars received each year by the County and to issue warrants (checks) in payment of all County obligations, including the distribution of tax dollars to the townships, villages, cities, school districts and library systems as well as other county agencies. The Auditor’s General Accounting Department is the watchdog over all county funds and maintains the official records of all receipts, disbursements and fund balances.
The County Auditor is the bookkeeper for all county elected officials and many other county agencies such as Human Services and Children Services. The County Auditor also keeps books for many “outside” agencies such as park districts, health departments, soil and water conservation districts, and regional planning commissions. As part of that bookkeeping responsibility, the County Auditor pays all the bills for these groups. It is the Auditor’s responsibility to serve as the paymaster for all County employees.
The County Auditor establishes the real property value and calculates the property tax for every parcel of real estate within your county. After the taxes have been collected by the County Treasurer, the Auditor then calculates how much of the money collected goes to each taxing district. Cities, villages, townships, school districts, park districts, community colleges, and others depend on the Auditor to do this quickly and accurately because these taxes are their lifeblood.
County Financial Reports
As the issuer of financial reports for the county, it is the County Auditor’s duty to make sure that financial records are kept properly. Many of Ohio’s County Auditors prepare a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which is a complete and full disclosure of all financial events for the year. Most of these reports exceed 200 pages! Many Auditors also prepare a Popular Annual Financial Report, which is a condensed version of the Comprehensive Report but more user friendly and easier to understand.
The County Auditor maintains a close relationship with the Auditor of State’s Office. Each year, the Auditor of State reviews these records to assure the county’s finances are in order and that proper internal controls are in place. The Auditor of State tests these controls and makes recommendations to county offices and agencies to assure that your money is spent properly.
Federal and State Money
Counties receive money from the state and federal governments for many county projects and programs. County Auditors must report the agency of the government that gave the county this money, the program title, and the amount spent.
The state often gives counties money from its own treasury, and sometimes money that it received from the federal government. This requires the same kind of accounting to assure taxpayers that their money is being spent as intended. The ultimate responsibility for accounting for these funds rests with the recipient agency.
The County Auditor also assists county agencies when they apply for state or federal grants to assure that the proper bookkeeping is in place when the monies are received. The Auditor must also file claims for reimbursement under several state programs.
Critical Responsibilities for Local Governments
The County Auditor also helps watch over local governments within your county by:
- Estimating the tax a local government wants to put on the ballot according to what they define as their need;
- Issuing a certificate when the local government wants to borrow money assuring that the debt of that government does not exceed what is allowed by Ohio law;
- Preparing a certificate of estimated resources on behalf of local governments to assure that the local governments do not spend more than they can expect to receive;
- Distributing taxes to local governments including: real estate, property, cigarette, gasoline, motor vehicle, and other taxes; and
- Consulting, advising, and assisting local governments and county departments on proper govern mental accounting procedures.
The County Auditor has several important responsibilities including:
- Sealing gas pumps, scales and other measuring devices;
- Appraisal and assessment of property;
- Licensing dogs, vendors, and others;
- Calculating taxes and ad ministering assessments;
- Administering tax exemptions for senior citizens, the disabled, charities, and churches; etc.
- Distributing money to schools and local governments;
- Managing the county’s computer systems in some counties and;
- Chairing and/or voting on many local governmental boards.
One of the most important jobs done by the County Auditor is to serve as the chief fiscal officer of county government. Some people mistakenly believe that the County Auditor has the responsibility for performing independent audits of local or county government, but Ohio law reserves that authority for the Auditor of State!