Auburn Township Trustees appointed Daniel Matsko as fiscal officer on March 6.
Two days later, the township received what Mr. Matsko called a “friendly visit” from a revenue officer in regard to the township’s failure to file taxes for five quarters.
Mr. Matsko said that the township’s former Fiscal Officer Fred May did not file properly with the IRS for three quarters in 2021 and the first two in 2022.
To help Mr. May “get caught up” on finances, trustees had hired Mr. Matsko as Mr. May’s assistant on July 18, 2022, at $600 a week, based on an average of 20 hours per week at $30 an hour.
At that time, it was not apparent that Mr. May was not completing his work, Mr. Matsko said.
In November, Mr. May was incarcerated for violating his probation, which stemmed from a charge of driving under the influence, according to the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office.
On Dec. 1, trustees appointed Mr. Matsko to the new position of deputy fiscal officer due to the emergency created by Mr. May’s incarceration.
“We haven’t seen him since before our Nov. 21 business meeting,” Mr. Matsko said.
Mr. Matsko said he had no governmental fund accounting experience, but was treasurer for 25 years of Auburn Fire Department, a nonprofit private company.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to learn the process, learn the software, get the year-end books closed and keep the business running,” Mr. Matsko said.
Mr. Matsko said that, due to his inexperience in government accounting, trustees hired former Chardon Township fiscal officer Joan Windnagle at $25 an hour to assist him and act as his counselor.
Ms. Windnagle also serves on the Geauga County Board of Elections.
“She’s been very helpful and valuable in getting us on the right track,” Mr. Matsko said.
When Mr. May resigned on Feb. 7, the township had 30 days to appoint another fiscal officer.
“They were advised to advertise that position,” Mr. Matsko said. “They voted to appoint me based on the fact that I was his assistant for a short time and I was able to get things moving forward to the best of my ability.”
Last week, a revenue officer visited the township to make it aware of the missed tax filings and that it owed $25,945 in withholding taxes, penalties and interest.
The township was charged $2,436 in interest and $2,615 in penalties.
“It is monies that had already been withheld from the employees’ paychecks, just never turned in to the IRS,” Mr. Matsko said.
The township has until April 13 to submit the full amount or request to make payments on it, he said.
“We don’t understand why we didn’t have prior notice, but I can’t answer for when I wasn’t here,” Mr. Matsko said.
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