Bellaire Mayor Vince DiFabrizio issued a statement Wednesday in response to recent reports related to an investigation of the village water department.
According to DiFabrizio, some of the information reported was released by "unauthorized sources."
"As mayor, I have issued a gag order on all village officials and employees so that a fair and impartial investigation can continue to develop regarding discrepancies in the water department's financial records," he states. "The village government goes well beyond state requirements to audit its financial affairs. A village is only required to be audited every two years. Bellaire opts, at an additional cost, to be audited annually."
According to DiFabrizio, this practice works to residents' advantage, because an annual audit can detect bookkeeping discrepancies much sooner.
"Council and myself review the village's financial affairs on a monthly basis. In early February of this year when the Village of Bellaire's Auditor's Office observed a trend of decreasing revenues in the water department records, I requested that the village's computer software company provide information to our auditor," the mayor states. "The Village of Bellaire's Auditor's Office worked daily and into the evenings for approximately three weeks, but was unable to determine the source of the discrepancy."
As a result, village officials asked the Ohio State Auditor's Office to conduct an independent audit of the water department records. The audit commenced in early March, and its findings were reported to the State Auditor's Office. An investigation is ongoing.
"Village officials understand that as public officers, they have little if any recourse when subjected to libelous and/or slanderous comments," DiFabrizio states. "This press release is not an attempt by the village government to respond to irresponsible comments, but is for the purpose of protecting the good name and reputation of the village's employees, who remain working in the water department after being subjected to ridicule.
"Village officials emphatically state that those village employees, presently working in the water department, are worthy public servants and should be recognized as such."