County investment issues resolved

LISBON – County Treasurer Linda Bolon reported during an investment board meeting Wednesday that the issues with county investments made in 2010 by former Treasurer Nick Barborak have been resolved.

Bolon told the board, which includes the three commissioners and Clerk of Courts Anthony Dattilio, she has been able to recreate the paperwork needed to unravel the discrepancy, work with the bank to return the invested funds to the county and close the problematic investment account.

The general fund account has been balanced, Bolon said, basically by adjusting the account to reflect $118,000 less at the end of the year.

Part of the concern had been an inability by Barborak to get a complete accounting of investment income needed to balance his books. Bolon later determined the way interest income from an investment was being reported to the county was causing the amount to be overstated in the county budget by $118,779.

“The board appreciates the work you have done to try to straighten out this mess,” said Commissioner Mike Halleck.

After the meeting, Bolon explained further that through working with the bank she was able to get all of the county’s money back.

“The bank was very generous in helping me and reimbursing us for their fees,” Bolon said.

The bank had reportedly agreed to waive its investment fees for the period and reimburse the county for any loss resulting from early liquidation of the investments with WesBanco.

Barborak, who was leaving the treasurer’s office after being elected as state representative, had told Bolon about his problem balancing the books prior to her taking over the office in January. While working to correct the problem, Bolon had reportedly discovered several investments made by WesBanco which violated state law. Later she discovered there were a total of eight illegal investments, along with 12 more investments made, which required the county treasurer to have additional training, which Barborak did not.

Barborak had contracted with First National Community Bank in March 2010 to invest $5 million in county funds through WesBanco. However, public investments in corporate bonds are required to mature in two years, according to state law. Some of those in question exceeded the two-year limit.

In April, Barborak had insisted county commissioners in 2010 had pushed him to diversify the county portfolio and urged him to go in the direction of WesBanco. Commissioner Jim Hoppel, the only current county commissioner on the board in 2010 had denied that accusation at the time and reviewed meeting records from 2010.

Barborak was not in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting, but Jim Armeni, who works as the Eastern Ohio regional liaison for State Auditor Dave Yost, attended the meeting. Armeni did not comment on the issue. The auditor’s office has been looking at the investment account as part of the audit.

In addition to discussing the investment issue at Wednesday’s meeting, the investment board also approved a list of six local banks to be the depositories for the next four years for county money, with Huntington Bank as the main depository.

With more than $47.9 million in the accounts, Bolon said it is necessary to obtain pledges from the banks whenever more than $250,000 is placed into one bank. The pledges ensure the county is paid even in the event the bank should fail. Bolon said she then monitors the accounts to make certain the amounts deposited do not exceed the amounts pledged.

About $3.2 million of the $47.9 million is in the general fund, while the county treasurer and auditor keep track of money from other accounts such as $7.6 million for the MRDD, $2.4 million for Children Services and $4.6 million for the board of mental health. Additionally, the county treasurer collects money from real estate taxes, holds the money and then distributes it to local schools and government entities.