GALION — A complaint has been filed with the State Auditor’s Office about the Sleep Inn at Ohio 598 and Brandt Road, near U.S. 30.
Tony Johnson asked the auditor’s office to investigate whether the TIF agreement with the owner of the hotel was legally enacted. He claims Galion City Council passed items having to do with the hotel illegally, and that residents were not made aware of the risks of making such an agreement.
In an email to the Inquirer, Johnson provided documentation that shows he asked the auditor to check into whether the TIF agreement between the city, state and the then-owner of the hotel was legally enacted.
He claims Steve Kleinknecht, the Director of Franchise Development for Choice Hotels, which played a large role in the hotel being built in Galion, profited from the project. Johnson also cites the fact that Steve Kleinknecht is the son of Joe Kleinknecht, current director of the Galion-Crestline Chamber of Commerce and a former city council president in Galion.
Johnson wonders if others profited, too.
The Auditor of State’s Office forwarded Johnson’s complaint to its Special Audit Task Force, which then made a decision on how to proceed. In this case, the complaint was forwarded to Thomas Palmer, the City of Galion Law Director, to review. Palmer will provide a formal response to the Auditor of State’s office..
The Inquirer sought comments from those involved in the complaint Friday afternoom, but as of Tuesday morning, no one had responded.
Here is the response to Johnson’s inquiry to the Ohio auditor.
The Auditor of State’s Public Integrity Assurance Team is in receipt of your complaint regarding the above-captioned matter. Your complaint regarding the above-mentioned matter was forwarded to the Auditor of State’s Special Audit Task Force.
It is the policy of the Auditor of State’s Office that allegations of public corruption, requests for special audits, or requests for additional audit procedures are referred to the Auditor of State’s Special Audit Task Force. The Special Audit Task Force reviews the complaint or request, reviews additional relevant information gathered by our investigative or audit staff, and obtains input from our legal staff on the resolution of legal issues. At the completion of our preliminary review, the Task Force members determine whether our office will address the issues as part of the annual or biennial audit, determine that the issues are not within the statutory authority of the State Auditor’s office, or recommend to the Auditor of State that a special audit be initiated.
The recommendation by the Special Audit Task Force was to refer your complaint to the City of Galion Law Director to review and to provide a response to the Auditor of State.
Thank you for contacting the Auditor of State’s Office with your concerns.
The letter was signed by Cheryl S. Gray, Auditor of State of Ohio, Complaint Specialist.