Callaway County takes steps to protect taxpayer money

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FULTON - A follow-up report from State Auditor Nicole Galloway has found that Callaway County officials have taken actions to better protect taxpayer funds. The Auditor published the report after an audit last fall showed former County Collector Pam Oestreich had embezzled more than $300,000 from taxpayers. 

"Our audits provide recommendations for officials to put in place increased oversight and better safeguards for public dollars, and that's especially important after fraud occurs," Galloway said in a press-release.

Pam Oestreich, the former Callaway County collector who pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $300,000, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and restitution of $380,000.

The audit highlighted a total of 13 areas of concern and made recommendations in those areas. The state auditor report said county officials fixed main problems.

"They felt good about what we're doing, we feel good at what we are at," Callaway County auditor Karen Rentschler said.

She said the office had to change their routines to make sure they're keeping it from happening again.

"The more eyes you have on something the better," Rentschler said.

The county auditor said sometimes it slows down process.

"If it needs to go to several offices for several signatures to happen, that's what we're going to do, because it's our taxpayer dollars," she said.

Rentschler said she hopes taxpayers see they're making progress.

"Hopefully we're gaining their trust back," she said. "We want them to be confident that we're taking care of their dollars wisely."