Mt. Sterling close to wrapping up state finance fixes

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(Posted Aug. 29, 2019)

By Drew Garrett, Staff Writer

The village of Mount Sterling continues to make progress in getting back on the right track with the State of Ohio.

On Aug. 26, village council passed several pieces of legislation addressing long-term, systemic problems. The newly adopted policies correct issues of concern and findings put forth by the Ohio Auditor of State’s office when the village was put on fiscal emergency in 2017. The issues stemmed partially from the corruption and mismanagement perpetrated under the watch of former village administrator and convicted felon, Joe Johnson.

The new policies range from detailing the procedure and setting parameters for conducting purchase orders to establishing common-sense guidelines for use of village-owned vehicles and other property.

The lack of such policies allowed for past administrators and employees to spend village money with near abandon and use village property for personal gain or recklessly to calamitous effect.

A commission that includes representatives from the state auditor’s and treasurer’s offices oversees the village’s financial management. This will remain the case until the state lifts the village’s fiscal emergency status.

According to Mount Sterling fiscal officer Courtney Bricker, the village needs to resolve just four remaining findings in order for the state to lift the fiscal emergency. She estimates the work should be done some time in December.

In other action, council authorized Mayor Billy Martin to enter into contract for a second time with AJ Asphalt to begin the next phase of the village’s street and pothole repairs.

Council held a first reading on an amendment to the village’s traffic control law. The change would authorize the village administrator to close streets for repair, put up stop signs, and perform other functions necessary to facilitate traffic safety and convenience.

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