By Leisa Zigman, I-Team Reporter
University City, MO (KSDK) - Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich released an audit Thursday highly critical of how University City operates and spends tax payer dollars.
The audit detailed how city leaders bungled finances, failed to collect more than $1 million in trash fees and violated open government laws by illegally holding a half dozen closed meetings.
Among the findings: the city has 3,373 delinquent trash accounts costing the city $1.6 million. The city paid $97,000 in severance to its former city manager, but had the termination date been just eight days later, the city would have saved $28,000.
"My message is there are serious and significant management problems. We have told them the way forward and how to eliminate those problems. We expect action," Schweich said.
The most egregious act according to the auditor was the city paying $146,000, to settle a discrimination case, instead of only paying $15,000 deductible. The cost difference is because the city failed to notify its insurance company promptly. That mistake cost tax payers $131,000.
"If I had done that in the private sector it could be legal malpractice. I could be sued for that. It is not appropriate. You are required to know what your contract is with your insurance company," Schweich said.
The city paid outside law firms over $230,000 in fiscal year 2010. But never did an analysis to determine if outsourcing legal services best served taxpayers.
The audit determined the city doesn't adequately supervise the operations of its parking facility, and that tracking receipts or disbursements is difficult. Auditors also found from July 2009 through October 2010, the city violated the State's Sunshine law at least six times by holding closed meetings without first starting in open session.