ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOX) – Rampant spending and questionable relationships within St. Louis County government are being investigated after a final audit of the Children’s Service Fund was released Monday.

KMOX has obtained a copy of the audit, sure to be a hot topic at the County Council meeting Tuesday night. The audit calls into question several of the Children’s Service Fund’s contracts for either spending too much or spending without approval.

Councilman Steve Stenger says that in many cases of overspending, there seems to be a too close for comfort relationship. “My concern is that it’s part of a larger pattern in the executive branch of County government. This all is not happening in a vacuum.”

Stenger says one contract for $250,000 caught his attention because the fund accepted the most expensive bid. “To charge $250,000 for a needs assessment seems extremely out of line and that that is the high bid is even more concerning. It is, once again, unacceptable.”

That was a contract which St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley signed off on. Council Members also signed off on the contract, but KMOX has a letter from Dooley to the Council, asking them to appropriate $250,000 for the assessment, before the council voted on it. The document ends with “It is my recommendation that the St. Louis County Concil take the necessary legislative action to authorize the request.” It ends with Dooleys’s signature.

In the case of another payment made from the Children’s Service Fund, a contract was not drafted and the relationship was only noted with a memo which no one signed. The deal was worth $11,000 and paid to the Excellence in Missouri Foundation.

“You just see a contract that doesn’t exist for services that are performed and paid for but with no terms whatsoever and nothing that can be verified,” Stenger said.

Stenger added that he is especially upset because documents allege several Children’s Service Fund employees also worked with the Excellence in Missouri Foundation while they were being paid by St. Louis County, thus taxpayer money was being diverted to that project. While the Excellence in Missouri Foundation didn’t pay for these employees to evaluate candidates for its Missouri Quality Award, the County continued to pay their salaries for the weeks they spent volunteering.

And Stenger isn’t the only one irked. Councilman Greg Quinn said Monday that he believes there needs to be more independence between contract recipients and County government.

Kate Tansey, the former director of the Children’s Service Fund, was the campaign manager for the Putting Kids First voter campaign in 2008. In October she resigned amid reports of an FBI investigation.

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