A state audit of Dearborn’s books and procedures is set to get underway as early as this week.
That is the message from Toni M. Crabtree with the office of Missouri State Auditor Claire McCaskill. Crabtree will be the audit manager for the review at Dearborn. Crabtree explained the audit process at a special meeting of Dearborn’s board of aldermen last Wednesday night.
A petition drive conducted last year by citizens concerned primarily about the struggling finances of the northern Platte County town forced the audit. Crabtree said 96 signatures of registered voters were required and a petition with 96 validated signatures was received.
Crabtree said the city will have to pay costs of the audit, including for the field work and travel time. She estimated the total cost will run anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000.
“It will depend on what (the city’s) records are like and what kind of audit we do,” she told the board.
Crabtree said representatives from the state auditor’s office had met earlier in the evening with the petitioners in a private setting. She said petitioners, in making their request, are not required to state specific reasons for seeking the state inquiry.
“Probably next week we’ll start working,” she said last Wednesday.
“From now on we’ll be dealing with the city officials, not the petitioners,” she explained.
The audit process will consist of about four to six weeks of field work, she explained, and the entire process of doing reports will take from three to six months.
Initially, the field auditor will write a report on his findings. That report will undergo a review process in the state auditor’s office, Crabtree said.
From there, a draft audit report will be presented to the board of aldermen.
“At that time, the city is asked to give a written response to the recommendations in the audit,” she explained.
“Once we get your response back, it goes to the state auditor (McCaskill) and she will review it. When she signs it, it becomes a public document.”
Crabtree said the audit will primarily focus on the city’s fiscal year that ended in June of 2004.
“We’ll be concentrating on that, but if something is going on that we need to go back a year or two, we’ll do that, or we could look at the current year.
“We don’t think it’s cost-effective to go back 5-7 years,” she said . The city’s management of policies and procedures will be studied, she said, and the state will also try to audit specific concerns raised by the petitioners.
“We’ll make recommendations on the areas we’d like to see improvements made,” she said.
At the conclusion of her remarks, Crabtree asked the mayor and aldermen if they had questions about the process. There were no questions asked.
Billy Clay Davidson, former city employee who was in attendance, caught up with Crabtree outside of city hall after the meeting. Davidson, who left city employment after his hours were cut, could be overheard alleging Sunshine Law violations by aldermen and expressing concerns about the way his employment with the city came to a close. Crabtree could be heard advising him to discuss his concerns with a private attorney.
Mayor Josh Linville, in a conversation with The Landmark on Tuesday, said he hates to see tax money spent on a state audit.
“But if there’s that kind of concern (to the point 96 people signed a petition) then it needs to happen.”
He said the situation shows residents are active participants in their local government.
“At least the citizens of Dearborn are showing an interest in their city,” Linville said.
“Hopefully this will clean up a lot of issues and we’ll be able to move on with some things,” the mayor added.