St. Louis Public Radio News
6:26 pm
Thu March 25, 2010

Audit finds ongoing problems with personnel record-keeping in city sheriff's office

St. Louis – The latest audit of city departments in St. Louis has found several employees of the sheriff's department were paid for full-time work without putting in the required hours.

State auditor Susan Montee released her review of the Sheriff and Public Utilities departments Thursday. They are the 22nd and 23rd of the citizen-requested audits, which will conclude with a report on the mayor's office and a round-up in April.

In the sheriff's department report, Montee found that 70 percent of the deputies who serve parties with documents in court cases worked less than 40 hours a week, even when meals and travel time were factored in. A review in 2003 found similar problems.

"In the responses the sheriff says that they believe that really the issue here was a matter of inappropriate signing in and out and logs being kept and that the people are actually working full time," Montee said.

Montee also found instances where the department paid deputies who had requested vacation to work on campaigns. A department spokesman, Mike Guzy, called that a problem with year-end accounting, and that people in charge of tracking leave balances may not have expected to see one day of vacation. guzy said vacation totals have been adjusted.

The review also found that like the St. Louis Police Department the sheriff's office does a poor job of keeping records of the evidence in its custody. For example, Montee said, records show the department holding about $372,000 in cash seized before May 2006. There is no indication why the money has been held, and Montee said she has no way of knowing if that was the only cash the department ever had in its custody.

In her report on the Public Utilities department, Montee found the water division may be violating Missouri's Hancock amendment by not charging the city for its water usage.

Though city-owned, the water division is required by law to fund its operation using the revenue it collects from water bills. Montee noted that the city does not pay the department for water used in city-owned buildings or places like Forest Park. That means the cost is spread out among residential and commercial customers only.

The department is comfortable with its current policy, said director Curtis Skouby.

"It either comes from the taxes or it comes from the water rates, and it was decided to be covered by the water rates," he said. "The citizens and our customers are one in the same people."

But the Hancock amendment does not allow the city to pay its bills using money from user fees like water rates, Montee said. Bills must be paid using general revenue money.