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Auditor Fitzpatrick releases audit of Montgomery County

Report issues a rating of "fair" and finds the county overtaxed its residents by $89,000 in 2022

02/02/2024 - Jefferson City, MO

A report released today by State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick shows Montgomery County officials have made improvements to several areas of county government since a 2016 audit gave the county a rating of "poor," but also contains several findings that indicate the county still has work to do. The newly-released audit gives the county a rating of "fair," and finds the county overtaxed its residents by approximately $89,000 in 2022 because the County Clerk reported incorrect assessed valuation totals to the State Auditor's Office.

"It's good to see county officials have made significant improvements since the 2016 audit that found the county was inappropriately spending revenue generated by a voter-approved sales tax. It's clear the county took the findings from the previous audit seriously and enacted policies to ensure most of them don't happen again," said Auditor Fitzpatrick. "However, the mistake made by the county in 2022 that resulted in residents being overtaxed by $89,000 is something that should not happen. While this isn't an enormous number spread out across the entire county, even one dollar of overtaxation is too much for taxpayers who deserve to keep those funds in their own pockets."

Fitzpatrick added, "I'm glad to see county officials contacted my office to resolve the issue and are working to correct the overcharges."

It was in 2022 that the Montgomery County Clerk reported an assessed valuation total of approximately $239 million instead of using the actual valuation of approximately $279 million when reporting the tax rate ceiling for the road and bridge tax levy to the State Auditor's Office. Because the county supplied incorrect data to the State Auditor's Office, the certified tax rate ceiling was higher than it should have been. The higher rate resulted in the county assessing approximately $89,000 more in property taxes than allowed by state law. Additionally, a similar valuation error that took place in 2021 resulted in the county assessing approximately $5,000 less in property taxes than the maximum permitted by state law.

The audit also identified inadequate controls and procedures in the Sheriff's office over inmate money and commissary purchases. The report notes that Sheriff's office personnel do not deposit inmate money timely, which increases the risk that loss, theft, or misuse of money could occur and go undetected. Office personnel also failed to prepare a monthly list of liabilities for the inmate and commissary accounts, which is an issue that has been found in four prior audit reports.

Other findings in the report include mid-term salary increases for the Sheriff that are in violation of constitutional provisions, a failure by the County Clerk to prepare the back tax, land and personal tax, and railroad and utility tax aggregate abstracts for 2018 through 2022, noncompliance by the County Commission with the Sunshine Law, and a need for improved electronic data security as well as a records management and retention policy for electronic communications. 

The previous audit released in 2016, which gave a rating of poor, raised concerns with the inappropriate use of hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales tax revenue, as well as problems with the segregation of accounting duties in several county offices and the need to increase security to protect electronic data. A follow-up report issued in 2018 found county officials had made progress on, and in many cases fully implemented, the recommendations in the audit.

A complete copy of the current audit of Montgomery County is available here.