We have sent the following letter to the News-Herald and asked that it be considered for publication in their newspaper.
Letter to the Editor
Subject: $5.3 Million Scandal in the Lake County Treasurer’s Office
As a result of our public records request, we reviewed the funds reports given to us by the Lake County Finance Director. We became quickly aware of account #894 titled “Surplus Over” in the amount of $5,324,376.05.
Per the Finance Director: “This fund is the accumulation of overages of tax payments through the Treasurer’s Office on various parcels of real estate for various reasons.”
We discussed the account with Mr. David Blanock, Chief Deputy Treasurer, and he confirmed that these funds belong to taxpayers that have overpaid their property taxes, and some of the balances go back into the 1980’s.
We followed-up a week later with the Treasurer’s Office, and were told in no uncertain terms by Mr. Blanock that this matter has been turned over to the Prosecutor’s Office, and we must therefore speak to that office.
I asked Mr. Charles Coulson, Lake County Prosecutor, about the $5.3 million in the account and he stated that he just learned about the account a couple of months ago; and the Treasurer’s Office is short-staffed and has not been able to address the issue.
I stated to Mr. Coulson that the $5.3 million must go back to the taxpayers or transferred into the General Fund. It could then be used to pay toward the allegedly, much needed new $100 million jail. Mr. Coulson said that most of the money will go back to the taxpayers, and there will be very little left for the General Fund.
It begs the question; How can Prosecutor Coulson make that statement if the Treasurer’s Office is short-staffed and cannot review the details? If he knows who has title to the funds, why are they not distributed immediately?
Since the 1980’s Lake County government officials, and Lorraine Fende, Treasurer for the past 8 years, have short-changed the Lake County taxpayers by not returning the $5.3 million to the taxpayers. It is a very questionable legacy indeed for Ms. Fende. We can only hope that the new Treasurer, Mr. Michael Zuren, will have more concern for the taxpayers’ finances.
8196 Rainbow Drive
Concord Township, OH 44077