Butterfield faces audit

Thursday, May 4, 2006

After receiving audit request petitions with the signatures of 39 registered voters living in the Butterfield city limits, the Missouri State Auditor's Office began an audit of the newly formed City of Butterfield last month.

According to state law, the auditor must conduct an audit of any political subdivision when a request is submitted by enough registered voters in that subdivision. The audit request for Butterfield required 33 signatures.

"The people that signed the audit feel like maybe the money in the city has been misused," said newly elected Alderman Gary Florer, who is listed as the head petitioner on the submitted documents.

State auditors have just started the information-gathering process for the audit, said Samantha Brewer, who is the public affairs coordinator at the state auditor's office. On April 25, Pam Tillery from the Missouri State Auditor's Office updated the Butterfield City Council on the petition audit process.

"They explained the basics of the state audit," said Georgia Wenell, Butterfield city clerk. "We had requested that the Highway Patrol do an investigation prior to this.

"The council felt like it had taken care of the concerns that the public had as far as fraud with the Highway Patrol investigation, which wouldn't have cost the city. This will cost quite a bit," said Wenell.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol will finish its investigation after the state audit has been completed, said Wenell.

"This is a petition audit," said Brewer. "Our auditors don't go in expecting to find fraud. If they do find fraud, they will investigate fraud and turn over the findings to the Highway Patrol or prosecuting attorney."

The Butterfield audit could look at spending, management practices, the Sunshine Law and other city business aspects.

Although auditors told city administrators that the audit would only look at records from 2005, Wenell believes the audit will go back to 2001.

The audit, which will cost the city between $4,000 and $8,000, will be completed in six to eight weeks. The city should receive an official audit report from the state auditor's office around October.

"After the auditors write the report and go through the review process, they will exit with the aldermen to go over the audit," said Brewer. "The aldermen will be able to point out factual errors and give a response, which will become part of the audit report."

The audit report could be released during a special public meeting.

For more information or to submit concerns, call the state auditor's toll-free hotline at 1-800-347-8597, write to P.O. Box 869, Jefferson City, MO 65102 or e-mail moaudit@auditor.mo.gov.

All submitted information will be kept confidential.

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