Audit finding forwarded to prosecutor

WARREN – A finding for recovery of $12,720 against the ex-treasurer of Liberty Local Schools will be forwarded to the Trumbull County prosecutor’s office for more review and possible action to recover the money.

Assistant county prosecutor Bill Danso said the office hasn’t received notice yet, but when it does, the finding against Tracey Obermiyer will be reviewed and ”appropriate action will be taken.”

An audit of district finances released Tuesday found that Obermiyer received school board-paid ”pick-up on pick-up” of 15.4 percent and 11 percent to her retirement account in the School Employees Retirement System. According to her contract, she should have received pick-up on pick-up of 14 percent and 10 percent.

The district was already paying for Obermiyer’s retirement portion in addition to the portion it was responsible to pay.

”While the excess payments may be permitted, there is no record of board approval for the extra SERS pick-up paid on Obermiyer’s behalf,” according to a new release from Ohio Auditor Dave Yost’s Office.

According to the audit, Obermiyer’s contract for 2001-2002 allowed the excess contribution, but subsequent contracts – from 2003-11 – did not, causing the $12,720 overpayment.

Employers are required to contribute 14 percent toward employee retirements and employees, 10 percent, but Ohio law lets the employer make additional contributions. Called pick-up on the pick-up, the method provides for a higher salary for retirement purposes only, which influences pension, according to the SERS website.

In this case, the district contributed 2.4 percent more to Obermiyer’s retirement, and Yost is calling for the money to be repaid to the district.

”Liberty Local Schools are trying to regain their financial footing and overpayments like these certainly don’t do anything to aid those efforts,” Yost said in the release.

A message seeking comment was left with Obermiyer.

Superintendent Stan Watson said the situation is due to some ”sloppy” accounting practices work that was ”not very effective and efficient” by people previously responsible for the district.

”This is just further reflection of some of the issues that occurred here in the past,” Watson said.

Obermiyer was caught up in another state audit, this one from last year that revealed she paid herself nearly $5,000 for work at the district’s former charter school.

The case was presented to a grand jury, which chose not to press criminal charges.

The county prosecutor’s office reviewed the matter to see if the money could have been recovered through a civil channel, but it did not follow through when case law revealed that because the payment was apparently made in good faith, it was not recoverable.