Jan 23, 2020 7:37 PM

St. Joseph city council leans toward external audit after nearly 5-hour meeting

Posted Jan 23, 2020 7:37 PM

By SARAH THOMACK

St. Joseph Post

After a work session that lasted almost five hours, St. Joseph city council members are leaning toward pursuing an external audit of the city's financial records.

City Manager Bruce Woody and council members met Wednesday night to discuss a recent letter to the City Council from Assistant Administrative Services Director Beau Musser, in which he raised questions about city finances.

Woody went point-by-point through each of the 48 points Musser raised, which ranged from sewer billing issues to use of the street maintenance fund. Woody labeled each one as correct, partially correct, having a small item of truth, or factually incorrect. 

About two hours was spent discussing points brought up by Musser about sewer billing issues.

“Seventy-two percent of families in this town with school-age kids are on free and reduced lunch,” Musser tells reporters. “So what that means is, 72% or more of people that live in this town are living paycheck to paycheck and they can barely afford their sewer bill as is. So if we’re missing out on, whether it’s $250,000 a year, or a million dollars a year, if we get our billings correct, those are rate increases we do not have to pass on to the consumer and so that’s been my mission along is let’s get it right.”

Musser attended the work session and there was often a back-and-forth between Woody and Musser.

“At some point it was really difficult for me to not comment on what he was saying,” Musser says. “He would talk at length about these bullet point issues, but almost never address the question that I was addressing and so… obviously it appears the city council isn’t accepting either one of us to be true."

Council member Russell Moore says while there was some controversy and conflict, both sides were presented.

“I know that the city manager presented his side of the arguments and we listened and Beau felt like his arguments were just as correct as the city manager’s," Moore says. "We have a booklet to take home and I’ll be looking at both sides of it to try to figure out who’s more right.” 

Musser says he reported a "lack of institutional control" to the city manager and mayor in August. Musser wrote another memo and called for a state audit of the city when they didn't respond to his initial concerns.

Musser says he is encouraged to see that after the work session, many of the council members seemed to be in support of an external audit of city finances. 

“We will probably spend the money,” says council member Russell Moore. “I don’t think we can afford not to have an audit right now, we need to have one.”

Nothing has been officially voted on yet regarding an external audit. The next city council meeting is at 7 p.m. on Monday.

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Jan 23, 2020 7:37 PM
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