Audit was initiated through citizen petition; report gives city government rating of fair, makes recommendations to improve
Jefferson City, MO (STL.News) Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released an audit of the City of Otterville, located in Cooper County. The audit was initiated by a citizen petition signed by Otterville residents seeking an independent review of the city’s financial practices. The report highlighted concerns with fiscal oversight in several areas and gave the city government a rating of fair.
“This audit began as a result of involved citizens in Otterville using the petition process to ask for a detailed and independent look at their city government,” Auditor Galloway said. “My audit found more needs to be done to ensure checks and balances so that taxpayer dollars are better safeguarded.”
The audit found the Board of Aldermen does not have adequate oversight over the financial functions performed by the city clerk, who is responsible for the city record-keeping. The audit found several checks that did not have dual authorized signatures. In addition, the city did not obtain required audits of its waterworks and sewerage systems. The audit recommended increased oversight and segregation of the clerk’s duties, and that the required audits be performed.
The audit also found the city needs to do more to ensure financial transparency. Accurate financial statements were not prepared and maintained, and financial statements were not being published, as required. City officials also did not properly amend the budget when necessary as required by state law. On Nov. 14, 2018, the board passed an amended budget, but only after the city had exceeded what had previously been budgeted. Even after the amended budget was passed, the city still overspent from some funds.
The audit also recommended better oversight of credit card purchases. For any purchase exceeding $250, city ordinance requires two signatures. However, the audit found a credit card purchase from 2018 that totaled $495. The credit card was also used to make personal purchases, which were later repaid. Additionally, some credit card bills were paid late, resulting in late fees and interest being charged to the city.
The city also needs to improve procedures for receipting, recording and depositing monies. The need to improve payroll, time-sheet, leave and health incentive policies for city employees also was highlighted.