For the first time in 10 years, Missouri’s auditor is going to take a closer look at the way the city of St. Louis operates.
The city is required to undergo a financial audit every year. But the review announced Wednesday by Auditor Nicole Galloway will also look at whether the city is following its own rules and policies when it comes to things like budgeting, contracting and open meetings.
“Citizens want a thorough, independent review of the city of St. Louis, and that is exactly what I will provide,” Galloway said.
She said her office will start requesting information for the audit in March, with field work beginning in May. She plans to release reports as they are complete; the entire process is expected to take a year or more. The city will bear the cost, estimated at $1.75 million.
The review is in response to a request from the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. But that resolution, sent to her office this month, was motivated in large part by a petition drive that would have required Galloway to do a comprehensive review.
In her announcement, Galloway praised the group leading that drive, Audit STL, and promised that citizens would play an important role in determining the areas her office would examine.
“In order to make sure we fully investigate citizens’ concerns, I will be holding a series of meetings throughout the city over the next few months,” Galloway said. “My goal is to ensure that taxpayers have an opportunity to have their voices heard.” She did not yet have details about locations and times.
Matt Schmidt, the treasurer of Audit STL, said he was pleased Galloway planned to take the time to talk to city residents, and urged those who had collected signatures on the petitions to attend those meetings.
“This is going to be a broad-ranging, comprehensive audit driven by the citizens of St. Louis, which is exactly what we were asking for,” Schmidt said.
He wants Galloway to focus on spending by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Audit STL began in part, he said, in response to a 2017 report from St. Louis comptroller Darlene Green on police overtime.
This is the second comprehensive audit of the city in 10 years. In 2007, the Green Party, concerned about how St. Louis was spending lead removal money, successfully petitioned then-auditor Susan Montee for a review. She released a series of 24 reports with hundreds of recommendations. Galloway said she will use those recommendations as a starting point.
Mayor Lyda Krewson’s office has also been reviewing those reports, and is expected to present its findings to an aldermanic committee soon.
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