Galloway said in past experience, “we communicate beforehand and try to inform the commission what is needed.” Galloway's office confirmed that there was an inquiry in December of last year from Camden County but there has been no follow up.
While the topic of an audit has been discussed, the Camden County Commission hasn’t made any announcement on how they intend to pursue a thorough look at the practices and policies in place to safeguard taxpayers money.
Agreeing with residents request who met with the commission to look at having the books audited, the county commission could pursue a private firm to perform an audit or request Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office to consider handling it. Either way, the county will be responsible for paying for costs associated with the audit.
There are 3 ways for a first class county without a charter form of government, like Camden, to be audited by the state, according to Galloway. A petition filed by registered voters, at the request of the governor or at the request of the county commission.
In order for the state to decide if the auditor’s office should undertake the commitment of time and resources it requires to do an audit, the commission would need to follow specific criteria.
Galloway said in past experience, “we communicate beforehand and try to inform the commission what is needed.” Galloway’s office confirmed that there was an inquiry in December of last year from Camden County but there has been no follow up.
The commission would then need to hold an open meeting, legally noticed and posted in accordance with the Missouri Sunshine Law, and pass a motion. The documentation of that meeting, including minutes, would then need to be provided to Galloway’s office with a request for the audit.
Once that takes place, Galloway said it is up to the discretion of her office if they move forward.
Undertaking the type of audit the state would perform is significantly different than the financial statement audit the county is required to have done annually by a certified auditing firm hired by the commission.
First and foremost, Galloway said her staff would look at the county’s compliance with the Missouri Sunshine Law.
“Transparency is critical for government at any level,” Galloway said. The audit would include the budget process, analyzing finical information, performance and practices. The process would include whether or not the county follows best management and practices, compliance with state statutes, bidding processes, look at where revenue is going and would detect fraud, if that were taking place. Through the process, the audit would also look at efficiencies and safeguards. The suit performed by the state is more in-depth than a private audit.
Once the audit is complete and the auditor’s staff presents the findings and make recommendations. The county would them be given an opportunity to address any issues the audit raised and respond. The process would be completed when the audit report was turned over to the public.
Galloway said it can be a lengthy process but once completed, provides a very clear understanding of how the county is performing and managing taxpayers money.
A group of approximately 10 citizens met with Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty and Second District Commissioner Don Williams on March 7 about the lack of perceived transparency occurring within the courthouse. The citizens successfully lobbying the commission to approve a motion that essentially begins the process of undergoing a performance audit by the State of Missouri Auditor's Office or by a private, independent firm without any connections to Camden County but with experience auditing first class counties.Both commissioners agreed with the citizens in that an audit was necessary and needed, promising to pursue both avenues regardless of costs. It is believed by the commissioners that a state audit would be more expensive and time-consuming, taking about a year and a half to two years and costing approximately $100,000, while a private performance audit could be less expensive and provide the county with the best possible practices to implement while fixing issues during the actual audit.
CODY MROCZKA, CMROCZKA@LAKESUNONLINE.COM contributed to this report.