JEFFERSON CITY, Mo (March 1, 2018) Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway released a follow-up report on the City of Wellston, located in St. Louis County. While there has been some effort to address several audit findings, the latest report shows the city continues to struggle to address financial problems and mismanagement within city operations.
"Taxpayers deserve government that acts efficiently, transparently and in their best interest," Auditor Galloway said. "In Wellston, city officials have begun efforts to address the concerns identified in the audit, but more work must be done to better protect citizen resources and create stronger safeguards."
The City Council has held several town hall meetings and budget committee workshops to discuss ideas to address the city's continued cash flow problems, however, the city still struggles to keep up with payments for regular operations and continues to incur late fees and bank service charges. The city continues to violate state law and still does not have a budget for all city funds, has not prepared or published financial statements, and has not filed annual financial reports. The lack of a long-term plan leaves the city's financial future uncertain. The city continues to make wasteful or unnecessary disbursements including the purchase, through a financing agreement, of five commercial mowers totaling nearly $39,000.
The city has worked to address certain findings, including a finding related to the mayor fueling his personal vehicles at St. Louis County's gas pumps with the fuel costs being billed to the city. The mayor now drives a city-owned vehicle. The council has approved an ordinance covering fleet vehicles and is working toward approval and implementation of an official policy to provide additional direction on the use of fleet vehicles.
The report also found the city has made some efforts to address concerns with the city's adherence to the Sunshine Law. The city provided information to show it has responded to recent Sunshine Law requests within the timeframe required by law. The city has also made attempts to address concerns regarding closed meetings, although meeting minutes and agendas still don't meet legal requirements, were not signed by the preparer, were not approved timely and were not always retained.
The review was completed because the city received an overall performance rating of "poor," the lowest rating available. The follow-up review occurs once the entity has had an opportunity to evaluate and correct deficiencies identified in the audit.
Auditors evaluated 19 recommendations identified in the audit report during the follow-up review. Three recommendations have been fully implemented, seven recommendations have been partially implemented, and two recommendations were in progress. No steps have been taken to address seven recommendations.
A copy of the progress report is available online here.