State audit: Van Wert Co. ‘mishandled’ funds in 2019

By Josh Ellerbrock -

Nathan Vandenbroek

Nathan Vandenbroek

VAN WERT — Van Wert County’s financial accounts are about $3,300 short, according to Ohio Auditor of State Keith Faber.

Faber’s office released Ohio’s 2019 audit of Van Wert County Thursday, and the report notes multiple accounting issues “where the lack of internal controls led to mishandling of public funds.”

The report’s timeline aligns with the term served by former Van Wert County Treasurer Nathan Vandenbroek, who resigned at the beginning of 2020. At the time, Van Wert Commissioners pointed to mismanagement problems as the reasons for Vandenbroek’s resignation.

Relatedly, the auditor’s report issued a finding of recovery for $749 against Vandenbroek.

According to the auditor’s office, state auditors were unable to determine if a cash shortage existed in the county’s vault and/or cash drawers due to the numerous lack of controls on the funds and issued the finding accordingly.

Similarly, the office also issued a finding for recovery against Kim Saylor, a former employee of Van Wert County. “Due to lack of monitoring procedures in place,” Saylor received $17,080 as a retirement payment after serving 32 years on the job. Calculations after the fact show that she should have received $2,500 less than what was paid by the county, and now, she’ll have to pay it back.

A less significant finding for recovery found by the auditor’s office dealt with $200 that had been unaccounted by the county’s system back in 2018. This past month, Van Wert County’s former treasurer Beverly Fuerst paid it back.

Outside of the findings for recovery, the auditor’s office also “included a finding for noncompliance of failing to file an annual financial report using generally accepted accounting principles and a finding for noncompliance and material weakness in regards to bank reconciliations and in regards to real estate property tax collection processes.”

More specifically, bank balances and cash fund balances between the county treasurer’s and county auditor’s office failed to reconcile on multiple occasions. As for tax collection processes, every single one of the 38 real estate property tax transactions examined by the state failed at one or multiple processing controls.

“During real estate property tax control testing, several items were not available for review which included signed Form 6’s, real estate tax stubs, Real Estate Terminal Edit reports and deposit slips,” the report notes.

Van Wert County has since established a correction action plan with the state’s auditor office, which includes eliminating the amount of cash handled by the county treasurer’s office, switching its reporting methods and having the county’s treasurer and auditor work more closely with each other in the future.

Nathan Vandenbroek Vandenbroek

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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