State Auditor Faber visits Xenia


XENIA — State Auditor Keith Faber visited Greene County last week to speak about election do’s and don’ts for public officials.

Commissioner Rick Perales personally invited Faber to address levy issues/rules with the municipality, township, and village administrators who were present in the room as well as answer questions from city/county officials.

“After the situation in Bellbrook, many elected officials were confused about their roles and responsibilities concerning levies,” said Perales. “I asked the auditor to come down and clarify just what elected officials can say or do in support or opposition to levies. I want to thank Auditor Faber for coming to speak and staying after the session to speak to people in the audience.”

Bellbrook’s superintendent and several former and/or current board members were previously charged with elected-related crimes for how promotional materials were published and mailed.

Ironically, school officials were not in attendance but Perales took the blame for that.

“That was an oversight on my part,” said Perales, who is working with Faber’s office to schedule a second meeting that will focus on school officials and how levy issues should be discussed in public.

Faber also discussed what was appropriate and legal conduct during levy campaigns during his 90-minute “question and answer” session. Some of the topics discussed included the placement of levy signs (which cannot be posted on public property like at a school or city building and the sign cannot be paid for using public funds.)

However, an elected or appointed official may put up signs in their own year using their own money to call attention to a levy or issue on the ballot.

Another attendee asked if elected officials were approached by the press on their position regarding a tax levy they have voted to bring to their community, can they express a position on the levy?

“Absolutely — elected officials are encouraged to speak to the community about their positions and may endorse a levy to the constituents,” Faber said, adding that elected officials can pay for informational mailings about an upcoming levy using their own funds and may advocate for the passage of the levy in the material.

The auditor suggested elected officials should be speaking publicly and communicating why they are taking this position as long as they do not use public funds or resources to communicate an endorsement.

School auditors or internal auditors determine the efficiency and effectiveness of the district while ensuring compliance, evaluating the internal operations of the district, and investigating issues related to theft, fraud, or other indiscretions.

Appointed officials may not express personal endorsement of levies — this needs to be left to the elected officials, Faber said. Appointed officials can provide factual information but only in the conduct of routine business and not in support of a levy campaign.

Reach Karen Rase at 937-502-4534.

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