Two candidates are seeking the opportunity to fill the Starke County Interim Treasurer’s position in tonight’s Democrat Caucus. The appointed person will fill the term of Linda Belork until a Jasper County Court settles a suit between her and the Starke County Commissioners. If Belork wins the court case, she will reclaim the office and the caucus winner will vacate the position. If Belork loses the suit, the caucus winner will automatically have the Interim designation removed from her title, and the candidate will become the Treasurer.
There will be a Democrat Caucus tomorrow night to select a replacement for Linda Belork, but the replacement will not be called the Treasurer of Starke County. Linda Belork, with counsel, appeared before Judge Kim Hall in Starke Circuit Court Wednesday morning seeking an injunction against a Democrat caucus being held to fill her position by the precinct committeemen.
Judge Hall ruled that because State Statute does not guide him in this motion he would fashion a ruling on the testimony. The judge interviewed Belork’s Attorney, Ethan Lowe, as well as Democrat Chairman Ken Wallace. When completed, Judge Hall ruled that a caucus could proceed tomorrow night, but that the person selected would be referred to as the Interim Treasurer. As the Interim Treasurer, the candidate would have the full authority of the Treasurer’s position to make decisions and sign documents.
The attorney for Linda Belork has notified Starke County Democrat Chairman, Kenny Wallace, that he, on behalf of his client, is challenging the right of the party to hold a caucus Thursday night, December 1st to name a new Starke County Treasurer.
Belork was removed from office by county officials in August when a State Board of Accounts report noted funding discrepancies totaling thousands of dollars. Those discrepancies eventually were resolved, but Belork was never reinstated to the office.
The Starke County Precinct Committee persons have been notified that the Democrat party has decided to permanently replace Linda Belork in the office of Starke County Treasurer. Belork was removed as Treasurer on August 11th by the Starke County Commissioners because of a state audit that pointed out financial discrepancies. The county also filed suit against the bonding company, Ohio Casualty, which subsequently canceled Mrs. Belork’s bond.
Starke County Councilwoman, Judy Benninghoff, still believes that the errors reported in the Treasurer’s office by the State Board of Accounts are actually errors in the Auditor’s office. In a release to WKVI, Benninghoff said that is backed up by an official in the State Board of Accounts.
“I called the State Board of Accounts and I spoke to Debbie Gibson, and she told me that the paragraph that was inserted in the Treasurer’s audit had nothing to do with the Treasurer,” said Benninghoff. “That pertained only to the Auditor. So, where it says that ‘beginning in March 2010 and continuing through 2011, there was a failure to post the entries pertaining to the remittance of various payroll withholdings’, that was true. That withholding fund is with the Auditor’s office, not in the Treasurer’s office.”
The discrepancies in the Treasurer’s office have almost been solved. It was reported at this week’s Starke County Commissioners meeting that the Treasurer’s balance, and bank balance were in sync within pennies. The figures came from the monthly 47TR report given to the commissioners.
“The 47TR form is basically the form that compares our Treasurer’s balance to the bank balance to the Auditor’s balance,” explained Commission President, Dan Bridegroom. “The Auditor’s balance will be somewhat different than the Treasurer’s because of how the funds are received. In the bottom line, that form out of the Treasurer’s Office should balance with our bank. That is where we had the huge discrepancy of almost $900,000 and that’s what led us to where we are today. As of Tuesday of last week, the Auditor, Kay Chaffins, and Casey in the Treasurer’s Office have got that down to somewhere around $.33 and they will find that portion of that also.”
A change of venue has been granted by Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall in the lawsuit filed by former Starke County Treasurer Linda Belork. The suit was brought about after Belork’s August 11th dismissal of her duties as treasurer of the county. Belork was relieved of her duties by the County Commissioners after a state audit reported financial discrepancies. According to a later commissioner’s report, some of the discrepancies have been cleared up by the Auditor’s office.
Ethan Lowe, Belork’s attorney, asked for a change of venue from Starke County. Representing the County in the matter is attorney, Martin Lucas.
The Starke County Commissioners received the “47TR” figures from one of the interim employees in the Treasurer’s office this week. That report is sent to the state each month showing that the figures balance with the bank receipts.
In an answer to a question from Commission President Dan Bridegroom, Casey Clark stated they still are not balancing, but “they are working on it.” By working with the Auditor’s office, the monthly figures are now balancing, but they are still off $46,000, according to Clark. That figure is a combination of money that is unaccounted for in 2010, and what she has found back to May of 2011
A meeting to explain the findings of the 2010 State Audit of the Starke County Treasurer’s records suddenly turned confrontational Friday afternoon. The report only listed almost $22,000 that the Auditors could not find for certification.
County Council President, Mark Smith, said there is still over a half million discrepancy for 2009.
The Starke County Commissioners are getting together in Executive Session this afternoon to analyze the 2010 Treasurer’s audit released this week by the State Board of Accounts.
Although the report pointed out that there were hundreds of thousands of book-keeping discrepancies, all but $21,906 has been found. When granted access to the county’s bank account statements and depository records, County Auditor, Kay Chaffins, was able to investigate the material.
The Indiana State Board of Accounts has completed the 2010 audit of the Starke County Treasurer’s Office. Starke County officials have been anxious to receive the report that will complete the most recent bookkeeping activities in the Treasurer’s Office that the Board will audit. The report is now in the hands of county officials.
Treasurer Linda Belork was removed from office by the County Commissioners after irregularities in the 2009 accounts were reported by the State Board of Accounts. The Commissioners also removed the deputies from office and named Casey Clark and Michelle Snowdon to handle the day-to-day activities in the office until the matter is straightened out.
A court appearance by attorneys who represent Starke County and Linda Belork was vacated yesterday. Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall will sign an order today establishing the procedure for selecting a nearby court to hear Belork’s case in which she disputes being dismissed from conducting her duties as the County Treasurer. Belork’s attorney had asked for a change of venue from Starke County.
The suit was brought against the County to determine if officials had the legal right to relieve her of the Treasurer’s duties.
The Starke County Commissioners Thursday removed county treasurer Linda Belork from office. The action was taken after the commissioners received a state audit of the office in which there were a considerable number of irregularities found. The commissioners have filed a complaint for default on the surety bond and damages. The surety bond company, Ohio Casualty Insurance, and Treasurer Linda Belork are named as defendants in the suit. Commissioner Kathy Norem asked for the removal, seconded by Jennifer Davis.