Mad River Township is nearly two years behind on filing unemployment tax returns with the Department of Job and Family Services and could face fines for filing late.
The issue was exposed earlier this month when trustee Joe Catanzaro inquired with the department as to whether the township had ever been charged late fees for not filing on time. He also inquired with the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and state and federal tax offices.
He said he did so because he suspected fiscal officer Maralee Leonard of repeatedly filing the paperwork late.
“I had my suspicions,” Catanzaro said. “It’s just about every other filing she’s late.”
At a previous township meeting, Leonard denied ever having filed tax returns late, but OPERS reported that since 2010, the township has incurred $2,500 worth of late filing fees.
Leonard lost her position as fiscal officer Nov. 3 when voters chose David Rudy. He received 34 percent of the vote while Leonard got 24 percent. Two other challengers got 22 percent and 20 percent of the vote.
Leonard has not returned calls for comment.
The township does not owe any money to DJFS in unemployment taxes, Catanzaro said, but was still required to file the return each quarter.
“You still have to file, but if you don’t they penalize you,” he said.
The township must file all of its missing returns before the department will calculate the total amount of penalty fees owed. Catanzaro said it could be as much as $300 per filing. They missed seven quarters since 2013.
When confronted at the Nov. 3 meeting with a letter DJFS reportedly sent to Leonard about the missing returns, she said she never received it and would look into the matter and get back with the board.
Moving forward with the new fiscal officer, Catanzaro said the trustees would like to have more access to financial statements so they can perform checks and balances.
He was frustrated when he couldn’t easily find out from DJFS how many late filings the township had.
He’s asked that the trustees have the password to Mad River’s account on the Ohio Business Gateway electronic filing system. With access, they’ll be able to see any late fees or other issues more readily, he said.
“Nobody questions the books because you don’t see the books,” he said.
Rudy, an accountant for 22 years, said he plans to take a look at ways to improve the work flow so late fees don’t pile up.
“I definitely know the importance of making sure the payroll taxes are filed on time,” he said. “I’m going to try and communicate better with everyone involved.”
Township employees complained over the summer about late invoices and lack of access to credit cards.
Leonard said those incidents involved invoices going to email or post office boxes that she doesn’t check regularly or departments not forwarding bills to her until they were near or past due. The credit card in question had been allowed to expire as she was working with the bank to get a new one set up, Leonard said in September.
The credit card issue is being rectified, according to Catanzaro, but he said his suspicions that something was awry grew when Leonard hired an assistant at $15 an hour.
“That’s when we realized she was behind on her books,” he said.
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