Schweich releases audits on Tourism Div., MSHP-Water Patrol merger | St. Louis Public Radio

Schweich releases audits on Tourism Div., MSHP-Water Patrol merger

Sep 21, 2011

Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich (R) has released audits today of the Missouri Division of Tourism and of the former State Water Patrol.

First, one audit concludes that Lt. Governor Peter Kinder (R) may have had a conflict of interest by serving as chairman of both the state Tourism Commission and a nonprofit group that put on the Tour of Missouri bicycle race.

It notes that the Tourism Commission has no conflict of interest policy and recommends it adopt one.

The report says Kinder, as tourism chairman, took part in discussions about the Tour of Missouri. And he voted to approve the agency's budget, which included $2.5 million for the bike race for two years. The audit says Kinder had not disclosed his role with the Tour of Missouri on state ethics reports.

Kinder's office said that was an oversight and he had no financial interest in the Tour of Missouri. 

The second audit concludes that the merger of Missouri's Highway Patrol and Water Patrol has increased costs to the state.

The Water Patrol became a division of the Highway Patrol this year. Proponents of the consolidation predicted it would eventually save about $3 million a year. But Wednesday's report from the state auditor says the merger appears to have increased costs by $900,000.

The audit says money saved by cutting staff and closing a headquarters was more than offset by increased retirement and health care contributions.

In a written response, officials said there was not enough time since the merger to capture all the savings. They also said the consolidation helped the state's response this year to a blizzard, flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and the Joplin tornado.