State finds few improvements after follow-up on Seymour audit

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SEYMOUR, Mo. Last December the city of Seymour got a 'poor' rating after it was audited by the state.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway's team checked in on the city six months later to see if any recommended changes were made.

The audit was requested by some tax payers. They filed a petition with hundreds of signatures asking for the state to take a peek at the city's books for 2017.

According to the initial report, auditor's found several weaknesses in utility operations and the financial condition of the city.

Twenty-four recommendations for improvements were made. However, when the audit team went back to check in with city officials the found only a few were implemented.

"I'm not opposed to audits. I think audits can be a good thing," said Seymour business owner, Terry Kelley.

He said checks and balances in city government are important.

"I think it's good to have our public officials held accountable to make sure that they are good stewards of the public's tax dollars," he explained.

South Ward Alderman Dan Wehmer said, "They scrutinized our books for three years of book work, not one penny missing."

Although it's not illegal, the auditor's team found that larger than usual amounts of money were being moved from the utilities fund to the general operating fund.

"Utilities are what allows our city to have paved streets and updated streets and a modern police force with 24 hour protection," said Wehmer.

Some people in town believe this is why they were being charged more for electricity.

The city made some changes.

"Our rates match exactly what a professional consultant told us to set them at. Residential customers actually saw a slight decline in their rates," explained Wehmer.

A few other recommendations, such as better financial reporting and payroll procedures are being implemented.

Wehmer said, "At the end of the day, there was nothing there."

In an email Galloway's office says:

"Audit staff returned to Seymour about six months after the report's release and met with city staff to evaluate progress on the recommendations. They extended invitations to the mayor and members of the board of aldermen as well, but the elected officials declined to meet with auditors.

At the conclusion of the follow-up work, audit staff discussed the status of the findings with city staff. Prior to the follow-up report's release, the audit team also notified city staff of the status of each findings as would be listed in the report. In neither instance did the city provide documentation to auditors to demonstrate any additional actions taken on the recommendations. "

Kelley believes that newly elected leaders will make a difference.

"I chose to move my business here because I saw potential here. It's a friendly town. I'm glad I'm here," he said.

Auditors with Nicole Galloway's office doesn't have any plans to go back and check in on Seymour. The audit process is complete.

There are no legal requirements that would mandate Seymour city officials to implement the recommended changes.