A work session has been scheduled to discuss claims made in a recent memo sent to the state auditor’s office from a city administrator.
Last week, St. Joseph Assistant Director of Administrative Services Beau Musser sent a lengthy email to State Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office alleging a number of poor practices in the city’s financial workings and other areas. City staff is now planning a work session for Wednesday, Jan. 22, to look into the majority of those claims.
“I’m trying to come up with responses to every bullet point that I can,” City Manager Bruce Woody said. “There’s several of them that are just plain ‘he said, she said’ accusations that are vague and have no factual information presented by him, which, therefore, I can’t respond to.”
Mayor Bill McMurray said the session could help inform the council on the situation as members decide whether or not they want to pass a resolution that would ask state auditors to come to St. Joseph.
“I think it’s really important,” McMurray said. “Beau has sent out this memo, so we need to take it seriously and address the points, and we need to make a decision.”
Councilman Brian Myers already has requested such a resolution be placed on the council’s Monday, Jan. 27, agenda. Woody said he would like to get a feel for what more members of the council are thinking first, though the resolution can be placed with just one request.
“I would certainly prefer to have more requesting that, but I try to be responsive to all councilmembers,” Woody said.
McMurray said his instinct is to vote yes on the resolution, but he wants more information first.
“I’m inclined to vote for something like that, but before I would vote for it I would want to hear the other side of the story,” McMurray said.
He said he does not believe all of Musser’s claims are accurate and brought up a line from the email that alleges that he “defamed” Musser by claiming he “plugged numbers” in financial reports that he provides to the council.
“Even at first blush I can see, well, I don’t think this is all accurate,” McMurray said. “For example, I did not defame him at a meeting, as he claimed at one point, and with the whole sewer billing thing, Beau himself, in November, said things are improving.”
In 2007, a petition led to the city receiving a state audit. That audit did not lead to any major findings but did recommend that city officials better document when funds are moved in order to be more transparent, according to a News-Press story at the time. Then-State Auditor Susan Montee criticized the city for transferring money between funds without explaining why, and claimed that, in some cases, the money shouldn’t have been moved.
Woody said that audit resulted in the city getting a bill for somewhere around $120,000 to $150,000.
“The City Council was pretty aghast at that last time and, after some back and forth, I believe there was a settlement on a much lower number, somewhere in the range of about $80,000, as I remember,” Woody said.
Wednesday’s work session is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the fourth-floor conference room at City Hall.