12/29/2022 - Jefferson City, Mo.
A report from State Auditor Nicole Galloway found at least $18,910 was misappropriated from the City of Dixon through overpayments made to the former city clerk. The audit, which also found the Dixon Board of Aldermen did not adequately monitor the city's payroll and employee reimbursement activity, gave a rating of "poor," the lowest possible.
"Audits are key to both exposing public corruption and then helping government officials take the necessary steps to restore the trust of citizens," Auditor Galloway said. "I am encouraged that Dixon officials have responded to our audit by moving forward on implementing its recommendations."
The audit was requested by the Dixon Board of Aldermen earlier this year following an initial review of allegations by the Auditor's Public Corruption and Fraud Division. The State Auditor's Office had been asked by the Missouri State Highway Patrol to assist with the Patrol's investigation of overpayments.
Jessie Fleming served as the Dixon city clerk from November 2013 until he retired in March 2020. Fleming, who was the official primarily responsible for payroll, disbursements and generating monthly financial reports for the city, signed his own payroll and reimbursement checks and had access to a former mayor's signature stamp.
The audit found Fleming was improperly paid $9,345 for 600 hours of vacation leave; that he overpaid himself $3,026 for accrued sick leave upon retirement; that he issued himself a severance check upon retirement that was an overpayment of $2,639; that he overpaid himself $2,695 for holidays; and that he inaccurately recorded his hourly rate in the payroll system, resulting in $1,205 in overpayments. The audit recommended the Board of Aldermen work with law enforcement officials regarding criminal prosecution of the overpayments and take necessary actions to obtain restitution.
The Board of Aldermen did not establish adequate oversight of the city clerk or establish segregation of accounting duties, the audit found. This lack of oversight was previously noted in a state audit issued in February 2015 and in the follow-up report to that audit.
The audit released today also noted that significant improvement over payroll controls and procedures is needed; some similar conditions also were found in the 2015 audit. The audit recommended ensuring city ordinances and personnel policies are followed; that payroll is adequately reviewed and approved by the Board; that pay rates are documented and timesheets are properly signed, approved and reviewed; and that procedures are in place to ensure payroll taxes are filed and remitted timely.
The audit also found the Board did not document its review and approval of any of the 21 expense reimbursements totaling $5,153 made to the city clerk during his employment. This also was a condition noted in the 2015 audit.
A complete copy of the Dixon audit can be found here.