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?