JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (May 17, 2018) An audit of the Winona municipal court has found the city owes the state of Missouri almost $22,000 in excess traffic violation collections because officials miscalculated general operating revenue for 2016 by more than $2 million. In addition, the audit said the court's accounting controls and procedures had significant weaknesses, increasing the risk of loss, theft or misuse of funds.
Those were some of the findings contained in an audit of the court released today by Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway. The report on the City of Winona Municipal Division, part of the Thirty-Seventh Judicial Circuit in southeast Missouri, gave a rating of "poor" for the audit.
"Municipal court officials need to address several areas of weaknesses to better protect taxpayer resources," Auditor Galloway said. "Our recommendations are on point to take on the problems identified in the audit. If implemented, those steps can help instill and restore accountability and public trust."
State law requires Missouri cities to send to the Department of Revenue any revenues from fines, bond forfeitures and court costs for minor traffic and municipal ordinance violations that exceed 20 percent of general operating revenue. The audit found that the Winona general operating revenue for 2016 was $252,789 -- not the $2,275,468 calculated by the city. Because the $72,545 in traffic violations collected by Winona exceeded the 20 percent threshold, the city should have sent $21,987 to the Department of Revenue, which in turn is allocated to local schools.
Among the other areas where the audit made recommendations for improvement were in the municipal division's accounting controls and procedures. The report specifically pointed to an inadequate segregation of accounting and record-keeping duties; insufficient receipting, recording and depositing procedures; a need to improve procedures regarding bank reconciliations and liabilities; and a need to ensure that some court surcharges were being properly used to comply with state law.
In addition, the audit found that the Municipal Judge does not always approve the final disposition of cases and that control of the judge's signature stamp is not sufficient; and that there is not accountability for all tickets written. Finally, the audit said that controls over municipal division computers are not sufficient, meaning records are not adequately protected and are susceptible to unauthorized access or loss of data.
The audit of the municipal court in Winona is separate from the ongoing audit of the City of Winona, which was initiated last year through a citizen petition. The complete audit of the municipal court can be found here.
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