LIBERTY - A state audit revealed Tuesday that former Liberty Local Schools treasurer Tracey Obermiyer paid herself nearly $5,000 for work at the district's charter school, LEARN.
The audit states that Liberty agreed to allow Obermiyer to perform fiscal officer duties for LEARN and that Liberty would proportionally reduce the amount of time she spent on district job duties.
Instead, Obermiyer paid herself, without school board approval, $4,920 for the fiscal officer duties provided for LEARN, according to State Auditor Dave Yost's office.
"The power to write the checks doesn't give you permission to write extra ones to yourself," Yost said. "This money must be returned to the taxpayers."
Brittany Elking, spokeswoman for Yost's office, said findings were passed on to the Trumbull County prosecutor's office, a standard practice with findings for recovery.
"The prosecutor then has the ability to decide whether or not they want to pursue charges," she said. "When the audit work is done, that's where our role ends."
The Trumbull County Prosecutor's Office did not return calls seeking comment.
Since Obermiyer's resignation last April, three state auditors have been working on the district's financial records for fiscal year 2010 and 2011.
In a Feb. 7, 2011, report, Yost's office ruled Liberty's finances unauditable, owing to missing bank statements and a budget that was not being reconciled with the district's bank.
Liberty's response was that the district relied upon Obermiyer to handle those duties.
Citations were issued through the audit regarding the district's budgetary issues, including Obermiyer's failure to file paperwork stating estimated resources available. As a result, appropriations never became effective.
In addition, the audit provides a list of duties Obermiyer failed to perform, inlcuding entering the district's budget amounts into the accounting system and handling monthly bank reconciliations.
The Ohio Department of Education said the district was $2.5 million in debt and Liberty was placed in fiscal emergency by Yost's office on July 11, 2011, based on projected deficits.
Liberty Schools Superintendent Stan Watson said the audit revealed what he expected.
"Certainly there was a great deal of disfunction, incompetence and inappropriate activity in terms of the bookkeeping and record keeping," he said.
"There is nobody in Liberty currently who is responsible for the situation we have, but there are a lot of people who are there and doing the very best they can to fix the situation."
Watson also stated that the district's finances would have led to their current fiscal emergency status regardless of Obermiyer's actions.
The audit listed eight separate findings of error in the district's 2010 finances, all of which Watson says have been corrected through the assistance of the state Financial Planning and Supervision Committee that has been monitoring Liberty since July.