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City of Edgar Springs audit begins



By Shari Harris
Co-Publisher

The monthly meeting of the Edgar Springs Board of Aldermen on Monday, Jan. 13, was also the entrance conference for the petition audit by the State Auditor’s Office (SAO). Audit Manager Deborah Whitis introduced herself and Senior Auditor Shannon K. Spicer to the council and community members in attendance then explained the audit process.
 The fieldwork for the audit started today; with information packets provided to the auditors and will proceed over the following eight to ten weeks. Auditors may contact citizens and the board during the audit with questions. When Spicer completes the fieldwork, she will submit a draft report to Whitis for the review process, which usually takes about two months. A closed exit meeting will be scheduled with the Board after the audit review is finished, during which findings will be discussed and responses from the City will be obtained. These responses will be included in the final report, which will be released to the public. Both Whitis and Spicer left business cards and brochures at City Hall for parties who would like to be on the distribution list for the final report.  Citizens wishing to contact the State of Missouri Office of the State Auditor may do so at (573) 751-4213. The State Auditor’s website, www.auditor.mo.gov, also allows access to news releases and audit reports.
The audit is the result of a petition initiated and signed by 37 citizens of the community. For a petition audit in the City of Edgar Springs, 35 signatures were required. The audit will be a performance audit, as compared to a financial audit. It will cover specific controls and procedures and general compliance regarding the budget, Sunshine laws and grants. Management practices, bidding policies, receipts and disbursements will be reviewed. Auditors will look at financials but not give opinions about them. The focus will be on calendar year 2019, but prior years may also be reviewed.
It is estimated the City of Edgar Springs will be required to pay between $20,000 to $45,000 for their audit depending on the number of staff work hours required to complete it. Alderman Sam Newman asked Whitis if payment plans were available to help the city cover the expense. Whitis assured the council that payment plans can be established.
 Alderman Brewer asked, “Is there any repercussion to the petitioner…” if the audit is good due to the expense of the audit and the hardship it causes the community. “Are we gonna do this every year just because somebody decides they’re upset with the city…?” Brewer asked.
Whitis indicated she had not seen repeat petitions with the exception of the City of St. Louis and the brochure available at the meeting states, “A political subdivision may not be audited by petitions more than once every three years.”
The Petition Signature form provided by the State Auditor’s Office to start the process included an estimate of the cost of the audit, as required by state law, so citizens requesting the audit did so weighing their concerns against the financial cost to the community.
In addition to the two auditors, in attendance at the meeting were Mayor Keith Gallion, Alderman V. Butch Lucas, Alderman Rick Brewer, Alderman Sam Newman, Alderman Terry Austin, City Clerk Rachel Lucas, City Attorney Brandi Baird, Chief of Police Joey Hohner, eight members of the community and this reporter.
Other highlights of the meeting included the report of a new blower motor installed at the sewer plant, hooked up to the old blower, with the new blower not in use yet. The radio control box for the warning siren was also repaired. It was requested that McNew Electric itemize their bill so the cost could be divided appropriately between sewer expenses on the blower motor hookup and City expenses for siren repairs. The sewer fund was short to pay bills this month, so a motion was made and passed unanimously to transfer $5500.00 from the General Fund to the Sewer Fund, then a motion was made and passed to pay the sewer expenses. Aldermen expressed their intention to return the amount to the General Fund from the Sewer Fund over the next few months.
Business license renewals were approved for Edgar Springs Mini Storage, OPE Sales & Services and Stone Creek Hair Salon.
A citizen asked if there was a procedure to follow if a reserve officer is charged with assault. Chief of Police Hohner did not respond to the question directly, but reported he wasn’t aware of any of his reserve officers facing charges. According to Missouri Case.net, misdemeanor 4th Degree Assault charges were filed against former Kody Lucas, with a summons issued on Jan. 10, 2020, for an incident on 2/25/2019. Lucas is a reserve officer for the City of Edgar Springs and the former Chief of Police. After being informed of Lucas facing assault charges, Hohner did state that Lucas “has not pulled any reserve time in forever.”
Mayor Gallion commented that he has experienced some confusion among citizens regarding the collection of taxes, which the County now does for the city.
New business included a liquid control panel to be replaced at the sewer plant. The City will need to hire a C operator for the sewer plant by April. The City Police received approval for their last vehicle grant. More repairs are necessary to the warning siren and should be completed by the end of the month. The next testing of the siren will be by the County at 9 a.m. on the first Wednesday in February.
Other business discussed was increased flow in the sewer system during periods of wet weather, including some clear water entering the system. A smoke test may be done to determine if there are problems. The board voted to sell an incubator that is not being used. Damage by City vehicles to the access, across private land, to the lift station on Walnut Street was reported, as occurring during wet conditions, with a request for the City to be mindful of its effects on the property and to try to reduce damage by avoiding driving vehicles through the area when it is wet.
The open session of the meeting was adjourned.

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