NORWOOD, Ohio — Norwood’s mayor and residents are speaking out with the release of a state audit that shows the city’s water fund is overdrawn by more than $185,000.
Residents were already asking questions about recently exposed problems with Norwood’s two water tanks and the city’s state of fiscal emergency declared in 2016. This week they were wondering where the water fund money went.
“I wish I knew. That would be great,” Norwood resident Emily Franzen told WCPO.
Mayor Thomas Williams said the money somehow went into the wrong city fund.
“The 7% off went into the sewer fund instead of the water fund,” Williams said. “How that happened, who knows? I don’t know.
“We were sitting in meetings … everybody was looking into it because the water fund was short,” Williams said.
The misdirected money came from a 7% service fee the Metropolitan Sewer District was paying Norwood to collect money from residents. That service fee amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars through the years.
“It was about $300,000 a year,” Williams said. “So $300,000 more that should’ve gone into the water fund was going into the sewer fund. And it built up a really big excess.”
That excess did not go down the drain, Williams said. It’s being transferred to the water fund where it belongs.
“Once it was decided what it was and we knew the money was going to be moved from one fund to the next, I was finished with it,” Williams said.
The mayor said the problem goes back to at least 2014, and he’s not sure who is to blame or why it wasn’t caught until now.
“We’re not auditors, and I’m not blaming it on them,” Williams said. “I don’t know how it happened … I’m not going to get involved in that and I’m not going to speculate.”
The mayor said the money wasn’t spent – it just accumulated - and the situation shouldn’t affect taxpayers in any way.
But Williams acknowledged that some taxpayers are suspicious.
“We’ve been accused of hiding the money … the typical social media conspiracy factors. But there was no money hidden and nobody got overcharged anything!” Williams said.
Another resident, Danielle Black, said it should be “a lesson for the leadership in this town.
“You need to communicate with your citizens and do your job,” said Black.