“I’m very pleased with the city’s direction in terms of managing our money and oversight by the aldermen. Many of the recommendations (by the auditors) were helpful to us and were implemented.”
— City Administrator, Hillary Gintz
Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway last week released her office’s final report following the 2018 official state audit of the city of Seymour.
Titled “Follow-Up Report On Audit Findings,” the 13-page report lists 24 objectives identifi ed by state auditors as areas city officials needed to improve and the city’s actions to correct those concerns.
In 18 of those areas, state auditors said the city received ratings of “implemented,” “in progress” or “partially implemented.”
In the other six areas, the city’s score was “not implemented.”
When the state audit was released last December, Seymour received a score of “Poor,” which is the lowest of five ratings issued by Galloway’s office.
However, while receiving the lowest state audit score, the auditors noted that no money was missing, misspent or misappropriated during the three-year audit period.
“We believe this is the end of it,” City Administrator Hillary Gintz said Friday. “After the follow-up work that was completed in May and June, we don’t anticipate the state auditors returning to the city.”
Copies of the 13-page report are available at no charge upon request at the Webster County Citizen office, located on the west side of the Seymour square. Report copies also are available at Seymour City Hall.
Gintz declined to offer an opinion on the final report by state auditors.
“I’m very pleased with the city’s direction in terms of managing our money and oversight by the aldermen,” she said. “Many of the recommendations (by the auditors) were helpful to us and were implemented.”
She said the auditors were pleasant and polite in their visits to Seymour City Hall.
“They were very good to work with,” Gintz said.
“For the most part, they worked with (City Clerk) Leslie Houk and I on this final visit. And I got the impression that they were pleased with our progress.”
Auditors praised the city for hiring a consulting firm that specializes in rate studies to perform rate studies for electric and water, which led to the implementation of new rates at the end of last year.
Regarding the city’s utility deposits and utility billing, the auditors said measures were taken to comply with their respective recommendations.
Among the areas where auditors said the city didn’t comply with recommendations, the report said, “The city continues to pay existing vendors for various services without establishing a written contract.”
Gintz said services included in this criticism include consulting, information technology, legal services and pest control.
Also included was contract mowing of vacant properties in non-compliance with city ordinances.
“We’ve not had a single issue with any of these vendors or services,” she said. “The services are performed, then the city pays for the services. If there is an issue with service, then the city won’t pay for the service or we’ll find another vendor to provide the service.”
In the report, state auditors said the city hasn’t established formal policies and procedures to ensure the proper use, accountability, review and approval of the purchase-order form and purchase-order procedures.
“The city did not have documented supervisory approval for 9 of 11 purchases made from five vendors during April 2019,” the report said.
Gintz questioned this criticism.
“That’s not correct,” she said. “We have an e-mail that proves this isn’t accurate. There were not nine purchases in the month of April that were made without approval from a supervisor.”
Also cited was the alleged use of public resources for public gain.
The criticism dates back nearly two years ago, when South Ward Alderman Nadine Crisp allegedly asked city workers to clear a fence row that bordered city property on the city’s southern edge.
The fence row was cleared.
Auditors want the city to get reimbursement from the adjacent property owner.
“That would be hard to do,” Gintz said. “The man who allegedly received this benefit now is deceased.”
She added that it would be hard to determine a value of the benefit.
“I think it’s highly likely that the neighbor on that fence row wouldn’t have wanted it cleared if he had known there was a cost associated with it,” she explained.
State auditors noted, “We did not identify any instances of city resources being expended on a private citizen’s property” in their recent visit to Seymour.
However, auditors want the city to seek reimbursement for the fence-row clearing.
“The board did not consult with legal counsel to determine whether the value of services previously provided to private citizens should be recovered,” the report said.
“The aldermen have shown no desire to do this,” Gintz said. “And I agree with that decision. Any use of city resources for the public have been eliminated. There haven’t been any more issues on this. For the city to pay legal counsel to collect money for clearing a fence row that borders our land doesn’t make a lot of financial sense.”
Payroll controls reviewed by auditors received stellar scores by auditors.
The only citation from state auditors came via three randomly selected payroll records from three employees. The auditors said only two of the records were approved by a supervisor.
“This isn’t accurate,” Gintz said. “I’m not wanting to get into an argument with the auditors on this, but again we have e-mail to prove all three records have supervisor approval.”
She said that she’s relieved the audit process has ended.
“To be honest, the city did benefit in several ways from the audit,” Gintz concluded. “We did learn a lot from the process in terms of us doing a better job in taking care of the city’s finances and keeping our residents informed of how we do it.”