Cincinnati mistakenly uses sewer funds to pay police

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- More than $100,000 of Metropolitan Sewer District’s funds were used by the City of Cincinnati to pay the salaries of various city employees, according to an audit report released Tuesday by Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost.

Nearly half of that was used to pay for salaries of Cincinnati police department employees, according to the audit.

The city of Cincinnati mistakenly charged MSD almost $50,000 for payroll expenses of 12 Cincinnati police department employees. The city also charged MSD to pay for other city employees’ salaries three other times before the error was caught.

“The metropolitan sewer district rate-payers come from outside the city. They shouldn’t be paying for the operating costs of the city of Cincinnati. They should be paying for sewer service,” Yost said. “These aren’t huge numbers, but it bothers me that these kind of mistakes can happen and not get corrected.”

In another error, the city of Cincinnati overcharged MSD close to $60,000 for “engineering services,” one of the many services the city shares with MSD. The error came from having wrong percentages in calculating shared costs.

All overcharged funds had been reimbursed from the city back to MSD over the course of the audit.

This has happened all while another special audit of MSD is also being conducted by the state auditor’s office. The special audit is taking a closer look at the district’s financial oversight after worries by Hamilton County officials of MSD’s “competitive bidding, contracts and payments” with other regional companies.

The expected release date for the results of the special audit have yet to be determined.

Liam Niemeyer is a fellow in the E.W. Scripps Statehouse News Bureau. You can reach him at liamnmeyer@gmail.com.

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