Columbus (2-15-18)  – A former fire chief has repaid $980 to the Village of Minster (Auglaize County) after state auditors discovered credit card charges that were unsupported or prohibited by village policy.

An audit of the village’s finances released today contains a finding against Dale Dues, former fire chief of the Minster-Jackson Township Fire Department, for seven purchases he made while attending two conferences during 2016.

Credit card records show Dues made four of the purchases, costing $913, at restaurants and bars while he and other department employees were in Indianapolis for a conference. The village gave Dues the card to pay for expenses related to the April 2016 conference.

In violation of the village’s credit card policy, Dues failed to maintain itemized receipts needed to substantiate the purchases. Auditors obtained a receipt from one of the restaurants, showing a $38 purchase of 11 alcoholic drinks. Village policy and state law prohibit the use of public funds to buy alcohol.

Auditor Yost
Auditor Yost

Auditor Yost

“The village has the makings of an effective credit card policy, but it’s lacking a critical component – enforcement. Village officials need to follow their policy and actively monitor credit card use to prevent further misspending.”

Dues, who retired in March 2017, made three more improper purchases the following July while he was in Columbus to attend the Ohio Fire and Rescue Officer Development Conference. Receipts obtained by auditors listed $67 in charges for alcohol and meals for guests who were not village employees.

Auditors issued a $980 finding for recovery against Dues, who repaid the village this past November.

The report includes a separate finding for recovery against Fiscal Officer John Stechschulte because he authorized an additional $530 in alcohol purchases for the village’s 2016 Christmas party. He repaid the amount in November.

Auditors wrote:

“The Village should implement policies and procedures to verify that all purchases serve a proper public purpose and that no Village funds are used for the purchase of alcohol.”

A special report released by the Auditor’s office in July 2017 highlights the risks local governments face when they fail to institute and enforce basic credit card policies.

House Bill 312, introduced in July by State Rep. Kirk Schuring (Canton) and Rep. Dave Greenspan (Westlake) with the support of Auditor Yost, would require local governments to establish credit card policies to protect tax dollars.

A full copy of this report is available online. (27 page pdf file)