St. Louis County councilman calls for audit of COVID gift card program

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St Louis County councilman Mark Harder is calling for an audit of the county’s COVID-19 gift card program.

The program gives $150 gift cards to fully-vaccinated residents. A total of 850,000 was earmarked for the program.

Early information from the St Louis County Department of Public Health said $35,000 had been spent on the gift cards. Now, the Health Department has updated that number to $262,350.

Council members initially thought there was $815,000 remaining. Instead, Health Department spokeswoman Christopher Ave said there’s approximately $587,650 unspent.

“I’m saying that is what we spent in the first round of purchases. So, the council members were given a report from us, but that report is more than a month old at this point,” Ave said.

FOX 2’s Elliott Davis asked how many cards were given out. Ave said 1,759 were eligible.

“I don’t have that running total because we continue to send out cards daily like everyone else,” he said. “The Department of Public Health has run into some supply chain problems getting the cards, so there have been some minor delays.”

 Councilman Mark Harder said all this is raising red flags for him.

“I think I’ll do some digging on my own, and I think I’m going to write a letter to our new auditor and find out if she can dig into this as well,” said Harder. “I’ve found that in seven years of this business when you find something like this, even though it seems small, that usually the more you dig the more you find.”

Councilwoman Shalonda Webb said she’s gratified that more people were helped than she first thought.

“We need to sit down and have that evaluated to see where we are,” she said.

The gift card program was launched in September. Webb said she has no problem having an audit of the program she started.

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