ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOX) – St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger promised a top-to-bottom audit of how much money St. Louis County might be wasting. The report is in, and the numbers could be in the millions.

“I can tell you that I was surprised by the volume of what are called ‘exceptions’ in the audit report,” Stenger says.

Related story: Top-to-Bottom Audit of St. Louis County Hits Snag

Stenger tells KMOX the independent audit found unexpected payments to employees who’d been fired, and potential duplicate payments to outside companies of almost $11 million.

He gave one specific example of a misuse of funds through a print shop being closed because it wasn’t being used.

“We met with the auditors, talked about it, and that’s been closed down,” Stenger says. “That’s a hundred and some-odd thousand dollars of savings every year that the audit uncovered already.”

Some of the audit’s findings were reminiscent of the embezzlement scheme involving former health department employee Ed Mueth, Stenger says.

The audit looked at data from 2014, the last year of former county executive Charlie Dooley.

St. Louis County released the following news release:

A top-to-bottom audit of St. Louis County government completed this week will serve as a guide to improving operations, cutting waste and strengthening fiscal safeguards.

“This audit dug deeply into every department of St. Louis County government,” County Executive Steve Stenger said. “It gives us a good, baseline view of how financial management has been approached in those departments in the past.”

During his campaign, County Executive Stenger had promised the special audit, which was performed by the Creve Coeur accounting firm of Brown Smith Wallace. Such a comprehensive audit is the first of its kind in St. Louis County government.

Among the audit’s objectives were closing loopholes that had existed for many years. One of the
purposes of the audit was to identify ways to eliminate risk in county government practices.

The audit assessed each department’s risks related to revenues, expenditures and assets.

Among areas of concern the audit identified were:

-Unexpected payments to terminated employees.
-Direct deposits to employees with multiple employee IDs.
-A vendor and employee having duplicate information.
-Vendors without tax IDs or social security numbers.
-Potential duplicate payments to vendors of up to $10.9 million.
-Spending patterns that can be indicative of fraudulent vendor charges.

“We were aware of a number of the risks identified and we’re already taking steps to address them,” County Executive Stenger said. “We will study the audit findings closely and use the information to identify the best way to address those risks.

“Action will be taken as quickly as possible to better protect taxpayer money and ensure fiscal responsibility in county government.”

Here is a link to the special audit.

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