Audit Outlines Record Keeping Issues, Spending at Texas Co. Collector-Treasurer's Office

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.(Ozark Radio News)--The Missouri State Auditor’s office says a scathing new audit of Texas County reveals continued issues that were previously highlighted, including over $6,800 spent by the Texas County Collector-Treasurer’s office from the tax maintenance fund.

“Taxpayers deserve transparency and accountability with every cent of their money,” Auditor Galloway said. “These are not just numbers on a page; they are real dollars from citizens who work hard for their paychecks. Even the appearance of questionable spending is unacceptable.”

Nicole Galloway released the audit, which gives the county a “poor” rating, Thursday morning.

AUDIT: CABLE, SHOT GLASSES PURCHASED BY COLLECTOR-TREASURER

The majority of the report details questionable spending by the Texas County Collector-Treasurer Tammy Cantrell’s office, totaling $6,800 worth of items purchased with funding taken from the county’s tax maintenance fund. Galloway’s office believes the majority of those items were for personal use.

Documented purchases by Cantrell’s office included more than $3,500 to pay for a cell phone plan and data overages over a 2.5 year period, where over half of the calls made were non-business related; a cable television service including movie channels for a break room used primarily by her and her staff; over $230 in decorations; and over $2,000 in grocery items, including meat, fresh produce, snacks, bird seed, and shot glasses.

The audit adds that taxpayers also footed the bill for a Sam’s Club membership for Cantrell and her husband, totaling $45 per year from 2015-2017. The membership was used only once, and the total amount spent during the 3 years was less than the cost of 3 years worth of membership.

The audit also identified changes to dates in the property tax system for 14 tax bills reducing penalties, commissions, and fees that should have been assessed for late payments. The county collector-treasurer's office could not document or adequately explain the reasons for the changes, according to the audit.

According to the audit, Cantrell stated the offices will work harder to adhere to Missouri statutes and will generate reports for any changes to tax bills. The Texas County Commission and Clerk, meanwhile, stated they will be seeking the opinion of legal counsel regarding the issues brought up in the audit and will be requesting itemized invoices from the office in the future.

Ozark Radio News spoke with Cantrell late Thursday morning to get comment on the audit. She stated to us that the items outlined by the audit were purchased or obtained for office use, and were approved by the county commission.

MONEY, RECORD KEEPING NEEDS WORK AT SHERIFF’S OFFICE

At the Texas County Sheriff’s Office, the state auditor’s office found improper record-keeping and handling of inmate funds, including the holding of over $1,400 for 337 released inmates as of December 31, 2016. The audit also cites a lack of proper agreements for housing inmates from other counties, and the owning of 28 fuel cards for gas, when only half of the cards are used.

In the audit, Texas County Sheriff James Sigman says the department refunds money to inmates upon release, but there are some rare exceptions, such as after 5 pm or when there are not 2 available signers for checks as required. Sigman stated that unclaimed inmate funds will be evaluated every 6 months, and turned over to the state treasurer’s unclaimed property initiative, if applicable. He will also review receipt protocols, and meet with the fuel vendor to limit the number of cards issued.

OTHER OFFICES

The report also identified several other repeat findings in other county offices, including a lack of published financial statements for 2015 and 2016.

The audit also outlines a lack of a “bad checklist” at the county prosecutor’s office; the lack of timely deposits by the county clerk; and improper segregation of duties at the county recorder of deeds’ office.

The county’s most recent audit was issued in October of 2014 and was also given a “poor” performance rating. That audit cited several issues, including the improper waiving of over $7,800 in back taxes or penalties, inadequate controls over seized property at the sheriff’s office, inaccurate meeting minutes and other inaccurate or incomplete record keeping.

A complete copy of the most recent Texas County audit can be found here.


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