Michael Calhoun

CLAYTON (KMOX) – St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley says a dormant health department bank account with a half-million-dollar balance is not news to him.

“It wasn’t just discovered. It’s always been there,” Dooley said Tuesday. A memo from his health department director, sent to county council members on April 17th, detailed the discovery of the money. Dr. Delores Gunn wrote that the $580,231.59 balance “has come to our attention.”

Dooley said the memo is being misunderstood.

“This county got hundreds of individual accounts. I mean, literally hundreds of accounts. It’s always been there and it’s not going anything and it’ll be used for county business.” he said.

But a fellow Democrat, county councilman Steve Stenger, doesn’t accept that explanation.

He said the account in question’s balance is $34,000 less than it was on December 31, 2010, and that the county auditor is “currently looking into that.” The cause is believed to be a bond write-down.

In addition, Stenger said an audit of the county parks department found a similar bank account, along with accounting errors, that also total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“They have left funds just lying in accounts that would’ve been very helpful during the alleged financial crisis,” he said, pointing out the County Executive’s series of lay-offs earlier this year.

“He fired those individuals. And those individuals collectively account for about 1.4 million dollars collectively, and the money we’re talking about is in the high hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Stenger said.

Gunn’s request was to use the half-million toward the almost-completed construction of a new health center, thus freeing up the same amount of money in the health department’s general fund. That proposal to the council, Stenger said, is currently on-hold.

Dooley said the county’s track record speaks for itself.

“This is a triple-A county,” he said. “It’s the only triple-A county in the state, so apparently we know what we’re doing.”

Stenger: “We want to maintain that triple-A rating, so we’d better know where our money is and we’d better have a handle on those accounts, and when I say ‘we,’ what I’m really referring to is the administration.”

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