Butler County Controller Jack McMillin is coming under fire for alleged overspending from the campaign of a candidate for his seat.
Bruce Mazzoni, who is helping Republican candidate Ben Holland, is criticizing McMillin for using significantly more overtime than controllers in other fourth-class counties, ones that fall in the same population range.
Mazzoni spoke at the county commissioners meeting Wednesday about his concerns.
McMillin, who also is a Republican, is not running for re-election.
According to numbers compiled by Holland, McMillin's office had a total overtime cost of $37,694 in 2012.
For the same year, Franklin County spent a total of $59 in overtime. The remaining seven counties had no overtime.
McMillin pointed out his office's overtime is due to his staff doing duties they're not required to do to aid other county offices and departments.
“Each year, I have approved certain discretionary services,” he said.
According to McMillin, 20 percent of his staff's time is devoted to such discretionary work as Domestic Relations financial reports and preparing Internal Revenue Service 1099 forms for row offices and district judge offices.
McMillin pointed out the county commissioners' office also logs in overtime.
Compared to the $37,694 paid to eight of McMillin's staff, three county employees doing work for the commissioners' office were paid a total of $21,769.
Commissioner Jim Eckstein defended the controller's office overtime costs.
“I want to commend them,” Eckstein said.
He said the controller's office overtime is the cheapest way for the county to have the work done.
Commissioner Dale Pinkerton said after the meeting that he is satisfied that the overtime was justified.
“We did sign off on it,” Pinkerton said, referring to the commissioners' approval of the overtime.
Commissioner Bill McCarrier, board chairman, agreed the overtime is valid.
During the meeting, McMillin chided McCarrier and Pinkerton for not sticking up for him like Eckstein did.
Pinkerton said he didn't respond to Mazzoni during the meeting because public comment isn't a question-and-answer period.
McCarrier said Eckstein's comments were sufficient.
“My feeling was what Jim said was enough for all of us,” McCarrier said.
Holland said in an interview that the controller's office should set the benchmark for saving money.
“This is not an attack on Jack,” Holland said about reviewing controller's office expenses. “I just wanted the transparency and clarity for the taxpayers.”
McMillin said during the meeting the cost comparison was invalid as two of the counties no longer qualify as fourth class.
He also stressed some of the counties on the list do not own nursing homes as Butler does.
According to McMillin, his office issued 4,000 out of a total of 12,000 annual vendor checks for the Sunnyview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
Mazzoni said in an interview it's McMillin's job to devise a comprehensive analysis of county controller offices.
“I'm not showing distorted figures,” Mazzoni said.
Mazzoni and Holland said there's always room for improvement.
McMillin also pointed to the extensive amount of time spent on the county's award-winning comprehensive annual financial report, which improves the county's bond-rating.
He also cited his decision to leave posts in his office vacant. McMillin maintains overtime costs are cheaper than increasing staff, who receive benefits.
McMillin accused Mazzoni, a Butler County Community College board member, of going after him due to McMillin's questioning of the college's ample surplus.
According to McMillin, the college has a $14 million “slush fund” between its surplus and another account.
He also accused Mazzoni of being irresponsible in presenting inaccurate data.
“You should be ashamed of yourself, Bruce,” McMillin said. “You're a political operative.”
Mazzoni said in the interview that McMillin refers to audit numbers of the college, which only show a limited financial picture.
According to Mazzoni, the audit numbers reflect a surplus before large expenses being paid each year, making the surplus much lower for most of the year.
Mazzoni claimed the college's actual unreserved funds total $4.5 million while another $3 million is capital reserves.
“We don't have too much money,” he said. “We don't have enough money.”
Mazzoni accused McMillin of being biased against the college because of disliking past and current board members.