A state audit of the city of Pacific being done at the request of a citizen’s petition won’t have any impact on residents, according to the mayor.
Auditors started work on a review of city business and ordinance compliance last week.
Debbie Woods with the Missouri State Auditors St. Louis office addressed the mayor and aldermen at the April 5 board meeting.
“Carl Zilch will be the one doing work here. He started work today,” Woods told officials.
“There are a few things I need to go through. The reason for the audit is that we received a petition with 434 valid signatures,” Woods explained. “Only 416 signatures were required.”
The cost of the audit will be between $35,000 and $50,000. Auditors were required to meet with the board in a public meeting.
“We will also meet with the petitioners to obtain their concerns,” Woods said. “And we’ll put things in papers to let citizens know that they can also contact us.”
Woods said all contact with state auditors will be confidential. Nothing will be known about questions they ask unless something is found and then what is found will become known in the final report.
The audit will take 10 to 20 weeks to complete. After field work is done, the auditor’s office will issue a report of findings. At that time, there will be a closing meeting with officials that will contain the report and recommendations.
“After all that there will be a public meeting,” Woods said. “The whole process can take six to 12 months. We will work mostly on the year ending June 30, 2011. But we will do some work in the prior year because a lot of the concerns had to do with that time period.
“This is a performance audit where we will review management practices. You have a CPA audit,” she added.
Mayor Herb Adams asked Woods whether the audit would be a review of the policies of the board of aldermen and administration.
“For the most part what we’re looking for is are you complying with your ordinances,” Wood said. “But we will look at your policies if your action is not in best interest of citizens.
“For example on the TIF what we’re looking at is did you follow procedures,” she said.
One member of the audience asked whether the $50,000 possible cost of the audit would affect property taxes, but Adams assured her that the city could pay for the audit without increasing taxes.
Adams said $50,000 is a lot of money, but citizens will see very little effect from the audit.
“We’ll be taking money from different departments,” he said. “They’re sharing the cost of this audit.”
Adams said some projects that had been planned might be affected, but citizens won’t see the change.
The city won’t be billed, Wood said, until the audit is complete, which would place the cost in next year’s budget.
Adams reiterated that the city is financially sound and even though the economy is still in a recession his administration is determined not to participate in the downturn.
“We’re making more and better improvements than in the past,” he said. “This audit will not affect our employees or equipment they need to do their job. Our intentions are that our citizens won’t see any impact.”
Adams said he’s anxious for the audit to be completed because it would clear up the impression that the city had done something wrong.
“Someone is right and someone is wrong,” he said. “I think the mayor and board of aldermen are on the side of right.”
Adams said he believes the audit had been requested because some people have a problem with policy. The municipal election, he said, is the way to change policy.
“I don’t think it’s reasonable that we spend $50,000 to say we disagree with policy,” he added.
“Sometimes people try to take advantage,” he continued. “Asking for a state audit gives the impression that the city fathers have broken the law. The audit will prove that wrong. They have complied with law. There is no fraud. This is just a case of people disagreeing with policy.”
Wood said citizens can contact the State Auditor’s Office at 800-347-8597 or firstname.lastname@example.org.