State Criticizes Summit County's Child-Support Agency

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A preliminary state audit has criticized the Summit County child-support enforcement agency, listing $4.3 million in questionable practices, including time off for political golf outings.

About $3.6 million of the questionable practices involve sloppy paperwork in the Summit County Child Support Enforcement Agency.

The audit said agency employees didn't always follow a state requirement that they fill out forms signed by a superior, to document exactly what they were doing at a specific point.

Because of that, the draft audit recommended that the county pay $3.6 million to the state, which helps fund child support. The amount represents more than a third of the agency's annual budget.

"What we're trying to do, we're doing our best to minimize that finding," said Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh.

Walsh sought the audit after her 2000 election. She said she found unexplained expenses billed through the agency.

Former Prosecutor Michael Callahan, now a Summit County councilman, said he hadn't seen the audit but said he would try to answer questions raised by the audit.

"I will prepare a separate response to assist the county in recapturing this money," he said.

He said certain accusations in the audit, including the charge that his employees illegally used compensatory time to attend his political fund-raisers, were false.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)