County finances in poor condition; lack of oversight leads to accounting errors
Jefferson City, MO July 31, 2017 (STL.NEWS) Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has released a regularly scheduled audit of Crawford County. The audit found the county continues to overcharge citizens on property taxes, a concern that has been raised in multiple prior audit reports.
“Taxpayers are footing the bill for the county’s lack of fiscal responsibility and calls to correct these errors are being ignored,” Auditor Galloway said. “I am calling on Crawford County leaders to address this important issue for the benefit of the county’s residents and taxpayers.”
State law allows voters to approve a county sales tax, but requires property taxes be reduced by a certain percentage, based on the total revenue generated by the sales tax increase. Crawford county residents approved a sales tax increase in 1985 with a property tax reduction of 50%. The county has consistently failed to reduce property taxes by the correct amount. Between 2012 and 2016 alone, the county has collected $44,537 in excess property taxes, which should be returned to taxpayers.
The audit also identified concerns with the county’s finances. Neither the county clerk nor the commission reviewed the county collector’s annual settlements for accuracy. The county is operating with a negative balance and, due to accounting errors in 2015 and before, the General Revenue Fund does not accurately reflect the actual cash balance. For three years, the commission has approved a deficit budget, in violation of the Missouri Constitution.
Crawford County received an overall performance rating of fair. A complete copy of the audit report is available here.
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