City of Bolivar Fixing Issues from Poor State Audit Report

By Chris Eidson

Published 02/27 2014 09:21PM

Updated 02/27 2014 10:17PM

BOLIVAR, Mo. -- In December, a "Poor" state audit report brought to light many operational issues within the City of Bolivar.

"We've taken each one of the recommendations that the state auditors have given us and we've implemented policy changes to correct the issues," City Administrator Darin Chappell said.

Chappell took his position two years ago.

He said the problems began with decisions made several years ago.

He and his staff are working to fix the problems.

"The entire department head roster is completely new," he said.

And working on having better communication with the Board of Aldermen.

"We're working together very diligently to make sure that past mistakes are corrected and that we don't create any new ones either," Chappell said.

Police Chief Mark Webb took his job seven months ago, amid the shakeup within the city.

"I was interested, I said I think I'd like to become part of that. It is a challenge and a new challenge and I think I can be a positive part of that," he said.

He's worked to fix another issue the auditor found: poor handling of evidence in the police department.

"There was no real check and balance as to who had been in, what they had taken," he said.

"We hired a new property clerk who's had many years experience in being a property clerk and we've started an entire audit of the property room," he said.

The auditor also found costs for the aquatic center much higher than expected.

So Chappell said the board voted to close the center until April.

He said one of the ways to reduce operating costs at the aquatic center is keeping the doors locked during the winter.

"We've been able to save a significant amount of money not having to heat that all this winter especially with propane prices the way that they've been," he said.

The issues are many, but Chappell believes they're being fixed one by one.

"We're seeing an increase in our general reserves, we're seeing an increase in our restricted reserves," he said.

"Last year we had our bond rating increased by S&P," he said.

He expects much better news during the next visit from the state auditor.

This was Bolivar's first state audit in the city's history.

It was requested by a petition from the residents.

The auditor will be back as early as March to re-evaluate.

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