State auditor: Buckeye Valley allowed public money to back bond levy

The Columbus Dispatch | Dean Narciso

A public-relations firm should not have used public money to promote a bond levy campaign for the Buckeye Valley Local School District last year and school officials should not have allowed it, the Ohio auditor’s office has ruled.

According to an audit released on Thursday by Auditor Dave Yost, the work included campaign polling and a $15,000 “win bonus” agreement between architecture and public-relations firms if voters in the northern Delaware County district approved the November levy. It failed, so the bonus was never paid.

“The law is clear — public dollars may not be used to promote school levies,” Yost said in a written statement. “All of Ohio’s school districts must be careful not to cross the line from educational to promotional — and not knowing about an illegal expenditure doesn’t make it legal.”

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