An employee of the Odessa Parks Department recently came forward with complaints regarding possible misuse of public funds by other employees. Click to hear KMZU’s Kristie Cross speak with City Administrator Jon Holmes:
They underwent a detailed audit of their account, and Holmes said no problems were found. They hired an outside auditing firm to look into the allegations. The audit cost the city about $6,000. Although no problems were found, the Parks Department has implemented some new policies to prevent further concerns.
Press Release from the City of Odessa
During the FY 2013 budget discussions for the City of Odessa Park Department, an employee of the Parks Department brought forward complaints regarding possible misuse of public funds by Park Department Administration and City Administration.
In response to these allegations an independent accounting firm was contracted by the City of Odessa to conduct a complete and thorough audit of all Park Fund expenditures and financial records for the past few fiscal years. The infractions that were cited, were allegedly observed by the reporting employee over a number of years, so the auditing firm was tasked with reviewing the last several years of financial records for the Park Department. This audit required many hours of work by the accountants and the cost was borne by the City of Odessa in the amount of approximately $6,000. This special audit was requested by Mayor Justin Murry, and the City Administrator in order to determine if the accusations were true, and to ensure that public funds were being handled appropriately. Specifically, the accusations included alleged misuse of public funds, alleged theft, alleged mishandling of public funds, and alleged fraudulent activities by members of the Park Board, the Park Director, and City Administration. The auditing firm reviewed financial records and transactions for the Parks Department in order to confirm the validity these transactions, or substantiate the allegations brought forward by the staff member.
At the completion of this independent financial investigation, the independent auditors found that none of the allegations regarding theft, fraud or misuse of public funds had any validity. Examination of Park Fund financial records did not reveal any missing funds, theft of public funds, or any instance where Park administration used public funds for personal use.
Regarding the allegation of mishandling funds; this allegation related to the daily management of the petty cash drawer. All transactions were reviewed, and all monies were accounted for. New policies for the management of petty cash were implemented at the recommendation of the auditing firm, the Park Board and City Administration. This issue only involved a few Park Department staff, but the Park Director was not involved.
The official report concerning the special Park audit will accompany the normal audit report which will be completed in February. These findings are presented annually to the Mayor and the Board of Alderman in a regular meeting of the Board of Alderman, which is public. The annual audit report is also available to the public by request and in accordance with Missouri state statutes.
Should you have any questions or would like more information, please contact the City of Odessa at (816) 230-5577.