Report No. 2010-35
Complete Audit Report
The following findings were included in our audit report on the City of St. Louis, Office of Sheriff.
Various concerns regarding personnel policies, required working hours, and records were noted. Outside service deputies regularly work less than 40-hour weeks and are considered full-time employees; however, the Sheriff's written personnel policies do not define any exceptions which allow these deputies to work less than 40-hour weeks. Some Sheriff's employees distributed campaign materials at local polling places while scheduled for election service vacation; however, the applicable time was not charged to their vacation leave balances. The Sheriff has not established a formal written policy regarding his own leave benefits, and it appears the Sheriff is not tracking or recording any sick leave used. In addition, employee leave accruals are computed manually by the Sheriff's office, and there is no independent or supervisory review of the leave accrual records. Leave accrual was not calculated correctly for some employee records reviewed.
Improvements are needed in procedures and controls over evidentiary property stored in the Sheriff's property room. The Sheriff's office holds monies, evidence, and eviction property, some of which has been held for a few years and could be disposed in accordance with state law. As of May 2009, Sheriff's records indicate at least $372,000 in cash seized prior to May 2006 was held in the property room. The property room currently has a large number of older evidence items which may have limited value, including numerous bicycles, televisions, vehicle parts, and electronics. The property room also contains property seized during tenant evictions, and the Sheriff has not regularly requested the Circuit Attorney's permission to destroy weapons seized or return them to the owners. In addition, information recorded on evidence item tags and bags did not always correspond to information recorded in the property room database or on property receipts, and the Sheriff's office does not perform periodic physical inventories of the property room. Similar conditions were noted in our prior audit report issued in 2003.
Procedures for tracking and distributing land tax sale proceeds need improvement. The Sheriff's office does not prepare lists of liabilities for funds held in trust pending distribution to the responsible party and does not attempt to reconcile liabilities to the balances in the Land Auction Sales Fund. We worked with Sheriff's office personnel to determine a list of liabilities and to reconcile the list to the city's Land Auction Sales Fund balance as of May 31, 2009, and noted numerous overpayments and accounting errors. The balance of the Land Auction Sales Fund was understated by more than $1 million due to accounting errors which should have been detected on a more timely basis.
The Sheriff's spreadsheets used to track collections and distributions of land tax sale proceeds need improvement. The spreadsheets do not have separate columns to designate when monies were paid to the Collector of Revenue, Recorder of Deeds, and City Treasurer (Sheriff's fees), even though these payments occur at different times. Corrections and adjustments of land tax sale distributions calculated by the Collector of Revenue are not always recorded on the Sheriff's spreadsheets, which results in distribution errors made by the Sheriff's office. The Sheriff's office does not recover fees received and turned over to the City Treasurer and Recorder of Deeds when properties are set aside and the sale proceeds are refunded to the purchaser. The Sheriff's office does not adequately follow up on notification fees due from land tax sales, and as a result, it appears some fees have not been collected. The Land Auction Sales Fund balance includes $27,416 from tax sales conducted between 2003 and 2005 which have not been confirmed by the courts in a timely manner. Similar conditions were noted in our prior audit report issued in 2003.
The Sheriff's office does not prepare an initial record of monies received, and monies may be handled by as many as three individuals prior to being recorded. Procedures have not been established to resolve outstanding checks, and as of May 2009, there were 135 checks totaling $13,729 that were outstanding for over a year and some checks were over 10 years old. Monthly lists of liabilities are prepared but are not reconciled to the balance of the Sheriff's bank account, resulting in errors that could have been detected on a timely basis if monthly reconciliations had been performed.
Vehicle usage logs are not maintained for the seven Sheriff's office vehicles not used for prisoner transport, including the vehicle assigned to the Sheriff. While non-commuting personal use is prohibited for all other vehicles, the Sheriff is allowed to use his city-owned vehicle for personal use but does not maintain vehicle usage logs to document commuting and personal use of the vehicle.
The Sheriff's office does not conduct physical inventories of weapons or maintain complete and accurate records of weapons qualifications for all deputies who carry weapons. The Sheriff's office has 289 handguns and 4 shotguns. The Sheriff has issued 146 of these guns to deputies and the remainder are held in inventory or are considered damaged and are awaiting destruction. Similar conditions were noted in our prior audit report issued in 2003.