After an audit last year determined the former city clerk of Center misappropriated more than $300,000, State Auditor Nicole Galloway has issued a follow-up report measuring the progress made to implement the audit’s recommendations. While officials in the Ralls County town of 500 have taken some measures to better safeguard public funds, the follow-up report said more progress was needed.
The 2020 audit, which gave a rating of “poor,” found former city clerk Tracey Ray used taxpayer funds to pay her credit card bills and other personal expenses and led to the filing of criminal charges by the U.S. Attorney. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 7 after entering a guilty plea to charges of wire fraud and theft.
“When our audits uncover corruption, they often lead to criminal charges and convictions,” Auditor Galloway said. “But they also should compel government officials to make the changes needed to ensure taxpayer dollars are not misused again. We’ve seen some progress in Center, and I urge the Board of Aldermen to follow through with all of the audit recommendations.”
In total, the follow-up report found that of the 11 recommendations followed up on from the initial audit, one had been implemented, six were partially implemented, two were in the process of being implemented, and two had not been implemented.
The Board of Aldermen has taken steps to work with law enforcement regarding criminal prosecution and ensure that all disbursements are necessary and valid uses of city money, including reviewing supporting documentation, reviewing check registers on a monthly basis, and requiring the signature of the mayor or a specific alderman on checks.
The Board of Aldermen has only partially implemented recommendations to segregate accounting duties or provide independent oversight of those duties; ensure all money collected is properly receipted; perform supervisory reviews of monthly bank reconciliations, and improve the city’s payroll controls and procedures. Implementation is in progress for obtaining annual audits of the sewerage system and submitting annual financial reports to the State Auditor’s Office, as required by law.
The follow-up report found that the Board of Aldermen has not implemented the recommendations to publish semiannual financial statements, as required by law, nor has the Board prepared an annual budget that contained all information required by state law or approved the budget prior to the beginning of the fiscal year.
A complete copy of the follow-up report can be found here.