State budget director raises concerns as Ohio Elections Commission struggles to make payroll

The state budget director has raised questions about the Ohio Elections Commission's handling of revenue as the agency struggles to make its payroll.

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There are serious concerns about the agency's policies for collecting existing fees and fines owed the commission, state budget director Tim Keen told the commission in a letter late last month.

At issue are the candidate filing fees, late fees and miscellaneous fines collected by the commission, a seven-member board that oversees adherence to Ohio election laws.

The budget office says it transferred $16,000 to the commission on Dec. 22, $20,526 on March 17 and $19,357 on April 1, so payroll could be met.

The office is concerned that the commission doesn't "have the processes and procedures in place to effectively manage the revenue streams which they are responsible for which have a direct bearing on their operating budget," said budget office spokesman Dan Caterinichhia.

Commission executive director Philip Richter told Keen in a March 27 written response that he regrets the situation and is working to ensure the agency can meet its obligations the rest of the year.

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"Obviously the Commission is in a challenging position and your consideration is greatly appreciated," Richter said in the letter. He also said he plans, on Keen's advice, to ask the panel that approves state spending for an additional appropriation of about $40,000 to help pay for the agency's continued operations.

Making that request is possible because the commission acted on "the ongoing urging you have received from my office to collect outstanding revenue owed," Keen's letter said.

The state auditor last year recommended that the elections commission improve its monitoring of revenue and expenses.