Officials from Missouri Auditor Susan Montee’s office said their work in Richmond could begin next week.
Todd Schuler, an audit manager Montee’s Kansas City office, addressed the Richmond City Council and citizens in attendance at last night’s meeting.
Schuler introduced himself and Senior Auditor Lori Bryant. He said Bryant will conduct the fieldwork here in Richmond and will report back to him.
Schuler estimated the fieldwork would take about eight weeks and the whole process should take about six months.
Schuler estimated the total cost would be somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000, but said that could change.
“It is just an estimation and I think everyone needs to keep that in mind,” Schuler said. “We will do our best to keep our costs down during the course of the audit and we have different tactics we use to keep those costs down, and one way is the more cooperation we get from city officials to get what we need.”
Schuler said he had not yet met with the petition group but said he would soon, and that all information shared with his office will be confidential. Furthermore, he said his office’s work would also be confidential.
Schuler urged any citizens who have concerns to call his office at 816-889-3590 or go to www.auditor.mo.gov.
Schuler said the concerns will be heard but not everything is auditable or practical.
“At this point I would urge anyone who has concerns that they would like our office to address to get in touch with me,” he said. “I’m not going to guarantee we will look into it. Sometimes citizens have concerns about things that, frankly, don’t fall under the scope of what we do. We certainly don’t want to look into issues and spend taxpayer dollars that don’t need to be looked into.”
He said once fieldwork is complete a report will be put together, and at that time the auditors will have a closed session meeting with the city council. Sunshine Law allows for a closed session because at that point the audit is still a draft, according to Schuler.
“We want to go over it and make sure the facts are right and that we spoke to who we needed to and also to give the council a chance to respond,” he said.
He said the report along with the council’s responses would then become public record.
Schuler said the scope of the audit would look at the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 ,2008; however, he said they would look at issues up to the point of the audit. He also said they will listen to concerns about recent years, but they will not be looking back several years.
“We’re not going to be going back seven or eight years,” he said. “We want to focus on what is going on now and what is relevant to the current operations of the city.”
Schuler said the audit would not repeat work already done. He said Bryant would use information that was collected from a recent financial audit that was performed by Westbrook and Associates.
“I don’t want (Bryant) to come out and spend a bunch of time repeating financial procedures (Westbrook) has gone through,” he said.
Schuler said the audit would look at internal controls and see if adequate controls are in place to avoid fraud or misappropriations. He said they will view compliance issues, constitutionality issues and generally accepted accounting practices and government procedures.
Schuler said once the audit is complete it will be up the voters to take any action.
“I do not have the authority to make anyone on the council do anything,” he said. “We’re going to make recommendations to all of you. (Citizens) are going to have to determine what action they want to take from there.”
Schuler said by law another audit cannot be performed for three years after the audit is complete.
No one from the city council or the city staff had any questions for Schuler.