City Auditor Brett Reed offered both a correction and a clarification while addressing Jackson city leaders at the Monday, Feb. 26 meeting of Jackson City Council.
First, Reed responded to comments made by Jackson Superintendent of Schools Phil Howard at a previous council meeting when Howard was comparing the expenses of the Jackson Police Department with the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, while trying to make a point there was room to cut in the police department's budget.
Howard had noted the sheriff's office has an annual budget of $670,000 while the Jackson Police Department had a budget nearly three times that high even though the sheriff is responsible for the entire county. Reed pointed out those numbers are misleading because the city's expenses include jail-related costs while the sheriff's office jail-related costs are in a separate fund and aren't included in the $670,000 figure.
Reed also said the police budget includes some salary and insurance expenses which are not included in the sheriff's office budget. Reed also pointed out that local police departments provide the main law enforcement services in Jackson, Wellston and Oak Hill, leaving the sheriff with the main responsibility for the rest (approximately 20,000 of the county's 33,000 total residents).
Reed contacted Howard about the situation and reported that Howard didn't realize these additional points of information and that he simply recited the numbers he had been given and assumed they were correct and valid.
Reed also addressed an article published in the Feb. 3 edition of The Telegram which was a report on his recent visit to the state auditor's office in Columbus to address the city's financial and auditing issues.
That article stated: "The state auditor's office had permitted the same reimbursements every year since the city passed a related enabling ordinance in 2009." That statement referred to certain rents-and-right-of-way reimbursements from the city's utility funds which had previously been allocated to the police department until a state-audit finding issued in June 2017 prohibited future allocations.
Reed wished to clarify publicly that the quoted statement about the reimbursements being "permitted" did not come from him or the state auditor's office, and he was concerned that readers might infer this since he was quoted in the article and provided some of the information used in it.
Telegram Editor Pete Wilson, who wrote the Feb. 3 article, agrees with the accuracy of Reed's clarification and said the statement about the reimbursements being permitted was his own conclusion and terminology, and did not come from Reed, but that he stands by it.