Wednesday, June 22, 2016

State audit follow-up criticizes telephone vote on Woolston resignation

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released a follow-up report to an audit of the government of the City of Joplin. The Joplin audit report was released in August of 2015 and gave the city an overall performance rating of "poor." When an organization receives a poor rating, auditors return for a follow-up review to confirm whether corrective action has been taken. In the Joplin audit, 32 findings were identified for follow-up review. Most of the findings selected for review were either partially implemented or in progress, with six recommendations successfully implemented.

"While there are a number of issues yet to be addressed, I'm pleased to see the progress that's been made and the city's dedication to addressing the audit findings and recommendations." Auditor Galloway said. "There's still work to do, as my report shows, but the city is on the right track and has begun taking steps to better serve Joplin taxpayers."

The August 2015 audit identified $10.9 million in state and federal reimbursement claims the city had not filed for disaster recovery projects that had been completed. Since the audit was released, the city has submitted reimbursement requests with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) totaling approximately $8.3 million for completed projects. The city also filed for and received payment of $2.6 million in state Community Development Block Grant funds. Additional projects may be eligible for reimbursement, and the city has filed an extension with FEMA for four projects that are expected to be completed in 2019.

Auditors identified ongoing concerns with compliance with the Sunshine Law, although two out of three recommendations related to the law had been acted upon. In September of last year, the city attorney conducted a telephone poll of council members to determine whether to accept a former councilman's resignation. Auditors found notice was not given prior to the telephone vote, and no council members were physically present for the meeting. Missouri law requires members be physically present at a meeting before other members may join by phone.

The follow-up review also identified concerns relating to bidding recommendations. The city council did not follow city requirements for bidding a $160,000 lease on $150,000 worth of golf course equipment, and did not comply with the city finance director and attorney's recommendations related to lease negotiations and options.

The complete follow-up report is available online here.

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