The Butler County Visitors Bureau has made policy changes and added an extra layer of review, according to its leader Mark Hecquet, after a state audit showed it improperly spent taxpayer money. STAFF FILE

$4 beer dings Butler County Visitors Bureau in state audit

The Butler County Convention and Visitors Bureau found that out when they were listed for a finding of recovery.

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A finding of recovery is when a governmental agency improperly spends taxpayer dollars in violation of state and federal laws and regulations and requires the agency or the person making the improper transaction to repay the agency the misused funds.

Among those laws and regulations is an Auditor of State Bulletin 2003-005 that deems any disbursement of public funds, such as lodging taxes for alcohol to be improper.

The Auditor of State reviewed the Butler County agency’s books ending on Dec. 31, 2016 and Dec. 31, 2017. In that review, state auditors will randomly select transactions, invoices and disbursements for further review. For the visitors bureau’s audit, 40 disbursements were randomly selected along with all disbursements of more than $9,000 over both years were reviewed by state auditors.

In that audit, which was released to the public today, a $4 alcohol purchase was found in an $11,554 disbursement issued on July 27, 2016.

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While there was no finding for recovery citation included in the audit report, it did state that the improperly spent $4 was reimbursed.

Ben Marrison, auditor of state’s spokesman, said no other action will be taken as a result of the audit. He said in any instance where alcohol is purchased using taxpayer funds, the State Auditor’s Office will issue a finding of recovery against the governmental agency.

Mark Hecquet, visitors bureau executive director, said he made an error when transcribing his expenses from his dinner meeting receipts to be reimbursed. He said that he noted it on the receipt, but it got listed on the final expense report.

“I wasn’t buying a beer for myself,” he said.

Hecquet said when he was contacted by the state auditor’s office, he said “it was a clear error on his behalf.” He said he wrote a check for $4 to make the repayment.

“They’re doing their jobs,” he said.

As a result, Hecquet said the bureau has changed its policies and has added an extra layer of review in its procedures.

Butler County’s lodging taxes cover the operating costs of the Butler County Visitors Bureau. According to the audit report, the visitors bureau received more than $1.39 million in lodging taxes in 2016; and more than $1.6 million in 2017.

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