Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released an audit of the Madison County Collector's Office. The report, completed by the Public Corruption and Fraud Division, detailed how more than $13,000 went missing between January 2017 and October 2018. Documentation shows that property tax bills were paid, but then deleted from the system and the payments were not deposited into county accounts.
In October, a taxpayer contacted the collector's office after being notified that his real estate taxes were delinquent. The taxpayer was able to provide a paid tax receipt. After county officials and law enforcement began to investigate the issue, a whistleblower contacted the Missouri State Auditor's Whistleblower Hotline about the suspicious activity. Based on discussions with law enforcement, the Public Corruption and Fraud Division investigated and then launched an audit.
"When there are suspicions of theft of taxpayer dollars, my team of auditors and investigators will not relent until they uncover all of the facts and shine a light on the abuses," Auditor Galloway said. "The Public Corruption and Fraud Division will continue to work with law enforcement and assist in any way we can to ensure accountability in Madison County."
The report identified $13,263 in missing money, which represents 66 individual personal property and real estate tax payments. When taxpayers would pay their bill, the transaction was recorded and they were issued a receipt. However, the transaction was subsequently deleted from the system and the money was not deposited.
An additional $2,000 in deleted transactions are questionable. This includes three transactions for the former deputy collector's personal property taxes.
Staff in the collector's office shared passwords and computers, which makes it difficult to track activity in the system by individual. Local and state law enforcement continue to investigate, and Auditor Galloway pledged continued cooperation from her Public Corruption and Fraud Division.
The audit recommended increased oversight of the property tax system and noted the county collector had not completed documented reviews of accounting and banking records. The report also includes recommendations to better track and account for receipts issued by the collector's office. The collector's office no longer deletes transactions and now requires additional oversight and review when making modifications to accounts.
The complete audit can be found here.