County officials confirmed Thursday that a tax allocation error discovered last week stretches across five fiscal years and totals more than a half million dollars.
First Assistant District Attorney Ben Loring released the figures which show that the combined overpayment of county sales tax revenues to the county's governmental building authority and the rural fire departments equals $550,323.92.
The misallocation resulted from an improper formula used in dividing tax revenue among four county entities.
County officials said Ottawa County Treasurer Brenda Conner has been applying a full 10 percent of tax revenues to the firefighters' account, 25 percent of tax revenue to the building authority account and splitting the remaining 65 percent between the sheriff's department and the road tax accounts. The allocation was based off of tenth of cent, quarter-cent and half-cent sales tax implementations.
The proper allocation would have been less than that in terms of percentages, county budget maker Bill Turner said, recognizing that the taxing percentages should have been calculated against the county's 1.35 cent overall sales tax figure.
The overpayment signals an underpayment to the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office and the half-cent road tax account equal to the overpayment.
An inquisition by Ottawa County Sheriff Terry Durborow led turner to look into why the sheriff's budget was falling, despite increasing tax revenues.
According to a document obtained through the district attorney's office, the firefighters have been overpaid since the tenth of a cent tax was placed on the books in the 2003-04 fiscal year.
In that same year, the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office and the half-cent road tax accounts have been underpaid.
The county's governmentall building authority has been overpaid since a quarter-cent sales tax was assessed in fiscal year 2006-07.
Conner told excise board members last week that she was given the formula by two auditors in the state auditor's office.
The auditor's office said Thursday that the only advice they give to a county treasurer in terms of defining a tax allocation is “follow the ballot.”
Auditors said reconciliation of the books is in the hands of the county excise board who must find a way to make all the affected entities involved.
It is not known at this point if, once the entities agree upon an arrangement for correcting past tax allocations, if the taxpayers - who allowed the taxations through public vote - will have an opportunity review any plan for correction.
Loring said the matter is still being reviewed.