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Following Audit Presentation: Is a Forensic Audit Needed? Kelly Says No, Saunders Says Yes

Following the auditor's presentation Tuesday, some thought more needed to be looked into.

Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich had bad news for Brentwood residents Tuesday. His audit of the city found 21 things in need of improvement.

Schweich spoke to several hundred in the main meeting room of the Brentwood Rec Center.

“Twenty-one is a large number of findings,” he said. “That’s much more than we usually see. That’s the bad news.”

See a Patch article with the content of the audit.

Schweich gave Brentwood a ‘poor’ rating, the lowest possible in his four-tier grading system.

He didn’t say there was good news, but he said no criminal conduct was uncovered, and that the current city administration seems committed to fixing the problems.

He said his office spent almost 1,500 hours on the audit, which will cost the city approximately $70,000. He said it came in on budget.

When a city gets a ‘poor’ rating, a follow-up team returns in 90 days for a follow-up audit.

“We will issue a follow-up report and let every one of you know if the recommendations we made, have in fact been implemented,” he said.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Marueen Saunders spearheaded the petition that triggered the audit.

She said she’s glad about what’s been uncovered, so they can be corrected.

Schweich said there was the opportunity for fraud to happen, given the poor accounting controls, and Saunders a forensic audit would be warranted.

“In a forensic audit, they’re trained specialists, they only follow the trail as far back as it goes, and while they’re going, if they detect any other weaknesses, they can implement the necessary controls, so you’re getting your internal control also implemented in a priority basis.

She said the cost would be $50,000 to $75,000, and would require a board vote. Saunders also said compared to what the city has lost through poor practices, it would be a good investment.

Resident Julie Pozzo helped Saunders collect petition signatures for the audit. She also hoped the board would support a forensic audit to look back earlier than 2011.

Ward 4 Alderman Patrick Toohey was optimistic that the city can implement the auditor’s recommendations in 90 days.

“We’ve already started a lot of it. The audit was 2011, we’re already half way through 2013, so a lot of it has been done.” He said it’s not difficult work, but it’s tedious and time consuming.”

Mayor Pat Kelly said it was a painful process to go through.

“I think we need to take very seriously the things that he revealed to us and make the corrections,” he said.

He said people who doubt the seriousness of elected officials to make the changes have political motivations.

“I think the elected officials and staff have the best interest in the community in their day to day operations,” he said.

Kelly said a forensic isn’t needed.

“The federal prosecutor went back three years in their investigation” he said, referring to the investigation into then city administrator Chris Seemayer.

“From my understanding, they looked at every check going back to 2008, we’ve had a state audit, and they don’t see any indications of fraud, and I’m sure that they looked back at issues that people may have brought up.”

Do you think a forensic audit is needed? Would it improve your confidence in the Brentwood elected officials?

Mr. Completely May 09, 2013 at 03:11 AM
Timmy- You're a little late with the name debate. Yes, I'm Mr. Completely.....I guess you're one of the Mensa member- birthers looking for the birth certificate worrying about everything except the issue at hand? NEXT; like I said, what do you think qualifies a person to be Brentwood mayor? ALSO …whats the problem with Saunders wanting to be mayor? I guess Kelly wanted to be street sweeper and accidently ended up as mayor? HAHHAHAHAHAH
Bob Earthal May 09, 2013 at 06:09 PM
I think you are being charitable for seperating the individuals from the deeds. I might be a little more forgiving if the incompetence and corruption were not accompanied by arrogance and secrecy. The mayor and the board members are neither stupid or naive. They are posessed with the arrogance that comes from being too comfortable in their positions, and the belief that their superior vision, judgement, and good intentions trump the procedures designed to restrain them. Anyone who has workied in the private sector is familiar with periodic performance reviews: an audit of our work habits and contibutions. No one likes them, but if we are honest with ourselves, we recognize the value. Yet every time the word 'audit' is used in this town, people come unglued. I don't get it (or maybe I do). If I were the mayor of a town filled with scandals that could cost me my job, I would want to take the lead and clear the matter as soon as possible. But he fumbles that opportunity every time it is presented, Even a casual observer of the news realizes that just the appearance of a government cover-up will raise plenty of questions from people who are entitled to know the answers - truthfully and promptly. When those answers aren't provided, the people may decide to elect a new sherriff to clean-up the town. Thanks, to all of you for taking up the cause, and a sincere thank you to Maureen Saunders for being the point person in this effort and taking the abuse directed toward you.
Jim Pozzo May 11, 2013 at 05:26 AM
Tim, the citizens' interests are still at the bottom of the list according to the city's responses to the audit. The State Auditor cited many instances where the city violated its own ordinances, state laws and federal laws by its actions. But then the city says it does not have to seek bids for legal services because state law does not require it, even though it would the best use of city funds to seek competitive bids. Why would the city not agree to obtain bids for legal services? It just doesn't make sense.
Phil Williams May 11, 2013 at 05:42 AM
Can I start my own petition to impeach an alderperson?
Kay Scott-Boyd May 28, 2013 at 08:55 PM
One thing that I found very concerning was that we have "new" hires who are getting money for "car allowances" that should be tied to their jobs but obviously is not since it is a flat monthly amount.. At the meeting explaining mismanagement even the auditor made light of the fact as to how that was a really high "allowance". These are the things that we need to cancel or hire new people so that those kinds of inappropriate allowances do not keep going. The 2 that were talked about come to around $1000 per month. I think $12 grand a year that could easily be put back into our reserves. These are the things that should be found and only with a forensic audit would find them. If just one thing like that was found by one year of audit, what would a longer term audit find?

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