JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. –State Auditor Tom Schweich announced today that his office will start auditing 10 municipal courts around the state annually.
The announcement lists 10 municipal courts to be audited this year with the office’s Municipal Courts Initiative. The 10 courts include:
- Bella Vista (St. Louis)
- Ferguson (St. Louis)
- Foley (Lincoln)
- Foristell (St. Charles)
- Leadington (St. Francois)
- Linn Creek (Camden)
- Mosby (Clay)
- Pine Lawn (St. Louis)
- St. Ann (St. Louis)
- Winfield (Lincoln)
The announcement specifically will be looking for compliance with the Mack’s Creek Law — the state’s 1995 law prohibiting cities of collecting more than 45 percent of their revenue from moving traffic violations — statistics on warrants (including data on race and gender), embezzlement, special treatment or corruption and proper accounting practices.
While Ferguson has been in the spotlight over the summer for a disparity in offenses based on race, as well as an eye-popping number of tickets issued, many of the municipalities featured in the list are generally well known areas for speed traps.
“Leadington may be perceived as a speed trap – very small town and they patrol Highway 67. I’m sure that’s the reason they’ve landed on the list,” said the area’s former senator and current neighboring representative, Kevin Engler. “Being such a small municipality and being one of the top revenue producers in the state brings up questions. I’m not saying they’re doing anything wrong, but they’ve always been very aggressive on ticket percentages.”
Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal represents Ferguson and is pleased to hear about Ferguson being included in the first year of the initiative.
“I support it,” Chappelle-Nadal said. “ My constituents will be happy to hear about it.”
Legislators representing the areas with the listed municipalities support the audit.
“Auditing the municipal court system is another step in providing transparency in government,” Rep. Linda Black said. “We depend on the public service sector to make wise use of resources, properly handle funds, and adhere to statutory requirements; audits provide verification to the taxpayers that their interest in government is protected.”
Audits will be released throughout mid and last 2015, depending on the fiscal year of the city, and at least five courts will be added for each subsequent year for auditing. The announcement mentioned that if credible information regarding a court not listed is received, they will not hesitate to add the court to the current year’s schedule.
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.