JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri State Auditor says her office found accounting weaknesses in the towing division of the St. Louis City Streets Department, earning the department a “fair” rating on an audit released today. A “fair” rating is the second-lowest one issued by the auditor.
Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office found the towing division’s accounting controls and procedures need significant improvement.
While this audit is part of an ongoing audit of the St. Louis City government, the city comptroller’s office also released a critical audit in March of 2021.
In the state’s audit, the report says there were discrepancies in an initial examination of two months of records and expanded their review. The report says auditors found incorrectly recorded receipts for 96 auctioned vehicles and 49 towed vehicles. The report also says Towing Division staff were unaware of the discrepancies until auditors brought them up.
Galloway’s office says inadequate record-keeping and poor reconciliation procedures increase the risk that loss, theft, or misuse of money could have gone undetected and that accounting records contain errors. Department personnel indicated new procedures had been implemented to address the issues.
The report also says discrepancies were found in a review of scrap metal sales by the Refuse Division. One invoice shows the weight recorded at the buyer’s scale was 2,000 pounds less than the weight recorded at a transfer station.
The audit recommended division personnel reconcile the weight calculations for scrap sales and investigate the differences.
The March 2021 audit by the St. Louis Comptroller’s office found there were 8 vehicles that were considered eligible for auction that did not go to auction. The report found a projected revenue loss of about $5,198. There was also another $2,118 of projected revenue loss from crush vehicles that skipped auction. The report found the division did not have clear criteria to disqualify crush vehicles from going to auction and there was insufficient information on why the cars didn’t go to auction.
The report also found the division did not maintain an accurate report of the number of crush vehicles retrieved by contractors or a process in place to determine how much is due from contractors each quarter.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports three aldermen did visit the city tow lot in October to begin a review of its operations.