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Citizen-initiated audit of Bel-Ridge finds numerous concerns with city’s financial condition, gives lowest rating possible

  

Findings in the report include inadequate monitoring of finances, use of restricted funds for general operations, and incomplete and inaccurate budgets

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — An audit of Bel-Ridge issued today by State Auditor Nicole Galloway has found numerous concerns with the city’s financial condition and has given a rating of “poor,” the lowest possible. The audit was initiated through a citizen petition; Bel-Ridge is located in north St. Louis County.

“My office conducted this audit at the request of Bel-Ridge residents concerned about their city government,” Auditor Galloway said. “As detailed in this report, the problems we found have had a serious impact on the city’s financial condition. I strongly urge city officials to implement the recommendations in the audit, so that the taxpayers of Bel-Ridge are better served.”

The audit found that the Board of Aldermen is not adequately monitoring the city’s financial condition, is not receiving detailed information showing financial data for each of the city’s funds, and has poor budgeting procedures. Those practices have allowed the balance of the General Fund, which is used for most of the city’s financial activity, to decline from a surplus of more than $500,000 at the end of 2015 to a deficit of more than $600,000 at the end of 2018.

The preparation and monitoring of budgets by the Board of Aldermen is inadequate, the audit found. In addition, the Board does not adequately monitor budget-to-actual revenues or expenditures, which led to expenditures exceeding budgeted amounts for the General Fund and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Fund by approximately $479,000 in 2018.

The audit found that revenue from the city’s TIF Fund was commingled with the city’s General Fund, Park Fund and Storm Water Fund, and that the city has not repaid amounts due to the various funds. Other restricted funds also were improperly deposited in the General Fund.

The audit also found that city disbursements were not properly supported or approved, and that some disbursements were questionable; the city did not annually fix salaries for officers and employees, as required; there was non-compliance with the Sunshine Law; and there were weaknesses with the city’s control and procedures over receipts and payroll.

A complete copy of the audit can be found here. Because of the poor rating, the Auditor’s Office will conduct a follow-up review to determine if the recommendations in the audit have been implemented.