Tuesday, February 7, 2012
(VIDEOS) CAN COUNTY AUDITOR ALAN HAROLD FIND ANOTHER $936,397 OF COUNTY MONEY JUST LAYING AROUND?
Last Monday Stark County Auditor Alan Harold astounded everybody at a weekly Stark County commissioner work session when he revealed that he had found "lost" money (i.e. overpaid/unclaimed property taxes and personal taxes) to the tune of $1.1 million that he was willing to certify to the commissioners as being available to allocate to the Stark County general fund departments of government for 2012. However, the overpaid taxes are always subject to the claim of the overpaying taxpayer.
What an unexpected surprise that was!
And, perhaps, he was at it again at yesterday's meeting?
Chief Stark County Administrator Mike Hanke (supported by Stark County Auditor Alan Harold) took center stage at the meeting to announce a "draft" budget wherein previously announced (February 1, 2012) 23% (clerk of courts), 14.07% (coroner), 25.79% (family court), and 15.13% (Probate Court) cuts became 20%, 10%, 10% and 10%.
The SCPR for one was interested to hear of this revision.
How could this be? Where was the projected shortfall of $936,397 in the light of the Hanke/Harold suggested revisions going to be made up?
Aha! Enter Auditor Harold.
It appears that Harold is finding money that was just sort of laying around under the stewardship of former Kim Perez (whom Harold defeated in November, 2010).
Such is certainly the case with the $1.1 million in overpaid real property tax and personal property tax money by Stark Countians who have not made a claim on the overpaid monies during the past five (5) years.
Here is a video of Harold and Hanke doing a press conference yesterday to explain to media how they plan to balance the county budget.
Kim Perez (a Democrat) is not former Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler (also a Democrat) but readers of the SCPR will recall how forcefully Republican Harold castigated Zeigler for the manner in which he ran the county treasury during his time in office (1999 - 2011).
While he did hit Perez hard during the 2010 campaign, it seems that Harold has turned over a new leaf now that he is auditor himself and appears to The Report to be much more gentle in assessing how he could be finding this money that has been there all along and not a peep from Perez when he was auditor.
Harold now very kindly and gently says that formerly the records were not updated as often as perhaps they should have been.
What is this? Has Harold been talking to Sarah Brown (wife of Stark County Court of Common Pleas Judge Charles E. Brown, Jr.) of the Stark GOP's Votes for Women about the need for more civility in government?
A week or two ago, Brown and her compatriots at the Votes for Women sent out a press release scoring Democratic Alliance Councilwoman Sue Ryan for being uncivil to Republican state Representative Christina Hagan in their square off on who is to represent the Stark-based Ohio 50th House District. Uncivil? Yes, according to Brown et al for Ryan calling Hagan a "twit."
So maybe Harold took the Votes for Women admonition to heart in lightening up on Perez?
Well, anyway the real point is that the SCPR believes that Harold is about to find more "just laying around money" within the records of the Stark County auditor's office to the tune of $936,397!
But the prospective find is not yet "his final answer." It will likely come next Tuesday (February 13th) when he and Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar appear for their monthly session on county finances with county commissioners.
Harold is playing coy right now. Probably because he can't believe what he is seeing and wants to make absolutely certain that his eyes are not deceiving himself.
However, the SCPR believes that he and Hanke are conservative enough that they would not have breathed a word of the possibility of another "gold strike," if it weren't pretty clear that it is for real.
Judge for yourself.
As is usual, the SCPR did a video of yesterday's session.
What do you think the chances are that Harold will confirm next Tuesday an additional nine hundred thirty six thousand three hundred ninety seven dollars ($936,397) in new found money?
Here is a second video of yesterdays budget work session wherein Chief Administrator Hanke explains to Commissioners Creighton and Ferguson how the proposed alternative budget came about.