Lake Ozark's Questionable Spending

9 years 4 months 1 week ago May 15, 2007 May 15, 2007 Tuesday, May 15 2007 Tuesday, May 15, 2007 5:52:52 PM CDT in News

More than a year ago, some Lake Ozark residents told KOMU that city leaders were co-mingling city funds and not spending city money in the public's best interest. Those same citizens petitioned the state auditor's office for an audit.

Now that the residents have the audit in their hands, they said it proves what they've said all along.

Some business owners and residents, like Gary Koen, are mad at the city for it's use of public funds.

"If I ran my business as poorly as some of things have been in this city, I'd be out of business. Either the government would shut me down, or I'd go broke -- one of the two," Koen said.

The state auditor's office released a 68-page audit last month revealing what Koen and others said is a lack of financial accountability. The audit lists several city expenditures that the auditor said "did not appear to be a necessary or prudent use of public funds."

The city spent $4800 for Christmas parties over three years and $1500 in Christmas and other bonuses. Lake Ozark also spent $10,000 in untaxed performance stipends for the city's ten police officers.

Some residents on the strip said they're more concerned about what will happen now and whether city administrators will follow the auditor's recommendations.

"The thing to me that's disturbing more than anything else is that many of these problems were indicated in a previous audit and have not been corrected over the last ten years, and so is it going to take another ten years before they get corrected? I hope not," Koen said.

Lake Ozark residents Carol Colvin and Susan Drummond have been following what they call the city's misdoings for years, and they want change too.

"This is stealing. This is fraud. This is misappropriation of funds, and there is no one to hold them accountable. Ok, we'll just keep those employees, and go on, and five years down the road we'll be going through this same thing," Drummond said.

Former Lake Ozark Mayor Paul Sale said he disagrees. He said portions of the audit, like the Christmas parties paid at the city's expense, are okay in his opinion.

"I'm afraid if I'm the mayor in this next year, they're going to ding me for it again on the audit because we're going to have a Christmas party," Sale said.

Lake Ozark City Administrator Charles Clark said he's stopped the bonuses and stipends, but some residents don't buy it.

As a business owner, Koen said the city needs to follow what the auditor found and said needs to change.

"We're in a rapid expansion growth right here in our community, and there's many many things that are just on the verge of happening and in the middle of happening and if we've got this sort of mismanagement going on now it can only get worse as things escalate," Koen said.

The audit pointed out several other things as well, like closed door meetings that perhaps violated Missouri's sunshine law because they discussed topics like bids for trash service, police department phones, or personal use of city vehicles.The audit also revealed that the city is simply missing $1200 because of poor financial management.

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