Protecting your Interests

Protecting your Interests

As billpayer-in-chief, your county auditor approves or rejects county agencies’ check requests to make sure that your tax dollars are spent properly. Your county auditor sees to it that federal and local taxes are distributed where they should go – to support schools, libraries, parks, seniors, and other services that you care about.

We keep the checkbook

Your county auditor is the county’s bookkeeper, producing financial reports for local, state and federal government that elected officials use to make decisions about spending priorities.

We appraise real estate

It is the county auditor’s duty to appraise the value of every home and business to ensure that your property taxes are fair based on the tax rate authorized by the voters in your county.

What we don’t do

A common misconception arising from our title is that the County Auditor has the responsibility to “audit” the financial activities of other county offices. Although the Auditor’s Office examines requests for payments of bills for compliance with public purposes, and audits payroll to policies or union contracts, state law doesn’t grant the County Auditor any authority to audit the internal financial management activities of any other county office, including cash on hand. Those duties are assigned by law to the Auditor of State.


Why Independence Matters

Why Independence Matters

You may wonder why voters elect a county auditor to serve as the chief fiscal officer. Wouldn’t county government by more efficient if county auditors were appointed by a county CEO, similar to a private business? The answer is no.

Here’s why?

Voters “hire” county auditors. That makes county auditors accountable to the taxpayers and no one else. That independence gives county auditors the authority to look over the shoulders of everyone working in county government to make sure that tax dollars are spent for a proper public purpose. It’s the county auditor’s job to question every request for money from the dozens of county offices that ask for it. County auditors can’t be influenced to spend money where it‘s not supposed to go.

Likewise, county auditors appraise home values independently and without bias. Their decisions determine how much money will come into county coffers from property taxes to be spent on public services.

Now imagine if instead of being elected by the people, county auditors were appointed by a county executive, a bureaucrat.

County auditors’ loyalties naturally would shift from you, the taxpayer, to the county executive to whom they would owe their jobs. What could happen if the politicians wanted to fund a pet project, but there’s not enough money in the county treasury? They could pressure county auditors into appraising home values too high to raise more money. Or, auditors could be pressured to approve questionable expenditures for fear of losing their jobs.

For more than 150 years, county auditors in Ohio have been elected by the people. As taxpayers, we need government to be more accountable than ever to protect our tax dollars. That’s why it’s vital that Ohioans continue to elect county auditors.

Taxpayer Victories

Taxpayer Victories

Elected county auditors are accountable to the taxpayers. Here’s how they’ve stopped wasteful spending.

Holding businesses accountable

In 2001, a City granted “Company A” a property tax abatement in exchange for investing $7 million and creating 40 jobs. In 2004, the Company sought future incentives to build a facility in the City. Based on the prospect of future growth, a tax incentive review council recommended continuing the abatement. Just two weeks later, “Company A” announced plans to relocate, costing the City jobs, payroll and investment. Outraged, the County Auditor called an emergency meeting to cancel the exemptions and recover lost property taxes.

Ending wasteful spending
One County Auditor refused to allow taxpayers to cover these costs, submitted by county agencies:

• Travel reimbursement for 7 days for a 4-day conference
• Travel expenses for an employee while on vacation
• Meals included in a conference fee, including bottles of wine and meal for a spouse
• 28 14-inch pizzas and pop for 24 meeting attendees
• Valet parking fees when self-parking was free
• Wine-tasting event attended by an employee
• Rental car expenses when training was held at the employee’s hotel
• Reimbursement for beer and body wash
• Lodging and meals two days before and after an out-of-state conference

Filing suit on taxpayers’ behalf

A County Auditor became alarmed by financial hemorrhaging in the county mental health system. An audit revealed that a local agency under contract to provide all the services was $365,000 in debt. Taking matters into his own hands, the County Auditor teamed up with the County Prosecutor to file a lawsuit to stop paying the agency’s bills. They argued that the contract was illegal since the agency was insolvent and using public money to pay off debt. As a result, the director of the mental health system resigned and the agency’s contract was terminated.

Exposing crooks

Acting as the taxpayers’ watchdog, a County Auditor found a number of irregularities: an overcharge to the county on debt by a bond counsel for $300,000, and employees tapping public funds to pay for private pizza parties. Most spectacularly, the County Auditor caught an employee embezzling $10,000 from the dog tag system. The employee was handed over for prosecution, tried and sent to prison.