Only one-third of the recommendations from the state auditor have been implemented at the Village of Ferrelview, prompting the state auditor to remark that “more can be done to better serve taxpayers.”
Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway this week issued a follow-up report on Ferrelview, where her office had conducted a performance audit that wrapped up in March.
The audit in March found the village was in poor financial condition and recommended closely monitoring the village’s finances and reducing spending. Galloway’s audit listed 21 recommendations to the Village of Ferrelview Board of Trustees. Only seven of those have been implemented thus far.
Galloway’s announcement this week said in addition to the seven recommendations that have been implemented by the village, six have been partially implemented and four were in progress. There are another four recommendations that have not been addressed and the village has “no plans to do so,” according to the state auditor.
According to Galloway, “partially implemented” means the village implemented the recommendation in part but is not making efforts to fully implement it.
“In progress” means the village has specific plans to begin, or has begun, to implement and intends to fully implement the recommendation.
“Not implemented” means the village has not put the recommendation in place and has no specific plans to do so.
“Implemented” means the village has implemented the recommendation, either as described in the report or in a manner that resolved the underlying issue.
Not everything in Galloway’s follow-up report was negative.
For instance, one of the concerns uncovered by the state audit was that to supplement the general fund and balance the budget, the village had been relying on transfers from restricted funds.
“The board of trustees is now monitoring the village’s finances more closely, has consolidated city paid positions to reduce payroll costs and no longer compensates trustees,” the follow-up stated.
“However, transfers are still being made from the water and sewer fund to the general fund and supporting documentation for those transfers was not maintained,” the auditor says.
The audit also found village streets in poor condition with little moey spent on repair or maintenance since 2015. The follow up report says a street maintenance plan has not been developed, “although a spreadsheet showing necessary maintenance needs for village streets has been developed by the village clerk. Officials are in the process of prioritizing future repairs.
Ferrelview had been marked for having insufficient oversight of the payroll process. A little progress has been made there.
“The village now requires timesheets for all employees. An employee handbook has been approved by the board and there are plans to further update compensation ordinances,” the state auditor says.
The follow-up did find the village has made some progress in regard to ordinances and has also made progress in regard to following the open meetings law, known as the Sunshine Law.
In the initial audit, village ordinances were not organized, complete, or up to date. Village ordinances were not codified or maintained in a well-organized manner.
Also, the ordinances pertaining to employees’ job responsibilities, work hours, compensation, and other applicable items had not been updated since December 1953.
The board of trustees ensure ordinances are maintained in a complete and well-organized manner and an index of all ordinances passed and rescinded is established. The board should also establish and or update, by ordinance, village employees’ compensation and fees for village services.
In the follow-up, it is reported the village clerk stated there are multiple ordinance books and she located an index of the contents of each book. She has scanned the various ordinances into her computer and has begun identifying which ordinances are still in effect and which have been repealed, but has not prepared an updated index.
At its Oct. 5, 2019 meeting the board approved the Employee Handbook and plans to update compensation ordinances for clarity and consistency with the handbook in April 2020 when any new board members are sworn in and village officials are reappointed.
Ordinances related to fees for village services have not been adopted. The village did not comply with state law regarding closed sessions.
OPEN MEETINGS In the initial audit, the state auditor found that open meeting minutes did not always document the specific reasons or section of law allowing the meetings to be closed. Most meeting notices and agendas included a statement that a closed session would be held, in the event the board wanted to enter closed session, and the statement generally included the same list of potential discussion matters.
Some topics discussed and voted on in closed meetings were not allowable under the Sunshine Law, the state auditor says.
Minutes for some closed session meetings did not include sufficient details of the topics discussed. The audit noted instances where the topic of the meeting could not be determined and the minutes simply indicated no votes were taken.
In the follow-up report, the state auditor says: “The board of trustees ensure specific reasons for closing a meeting are documented in the open minutes, and ensure only topics allowed by state law are discussed in closed meetings. In addition, the board should ensure closed meeting minutes include sufficient detail necessary to provide a complete record of matters discussed and actions taken. The auditor’s office says minutes of both open and closed sessions are now significantly more detailed regarding the topics discussed and decisions made, and the chairman “indicated the board is more diligent in its efforts to ensure only allowable topics are discussed in closed session.”
The Aug. 22, 2019, board meeting included a closed session and the open minutes properly indicated the specific reason for closing the meeting. The closed minutes included sufficient detail of the matter discussed and actions taken to show the discussion was limited to the reason for closing the meeting.
The initial audit had found minutes for monthly board meetings were neither signed by the village clerk as the preparer, nor the board chairperson or another board member to indicate board approval.
The follow up report indicates: “The board of trustees maintain complete and accurate minutes for all meetings and ensure meeting minutes are signed by the preparer as well as the board chairperson or another board member following board approval.”
The auditor’s follow-up says: “We reviewed minutes for meetings held by the board in August and September 2019 and they looked complete and accurate and were signed by both the village clerk as preparer and the board chairperson to indicate board approval.