The results of a citizen-requested audit of the City of Hamilton, located in Caldwell County have been released. The audit recommended better planning to ensure adequate street repair and recommended better processes to avoid conflicts of interest in city business.
"Citizens deserve government that functions efficiently and transparently, but processes were not in place in the City of Hamilton to ensure this is the case," Auditor Nicole Galloway said. "I'm encouraged that the board of aldermen seems to be taking the recommendations in the report seriously so they can better serve taxpayers."
Voters approved two sales taxes to support the improvement of city streets, the first in 1993 and then another in 2011, which was renewed in 2016. However, auditors found city streets to be in poor condition with numerous potholes, cracks and crumbling pavement. The city does not have a formal plan to guide street maintenance and repair. The audit recommended the city develop a formal annual maintenance plan, as well as a comprehensive long-term plan to most efficiently use available resources.
The audit also found the city did not have proper procedures in place to avoid conflicts of interest. Specifically, there were two instances when the city hired an alderman's company to complete projects for the city, but did not solicit competitive bids or provide public notice, as required by state law. Additionally the audit found the Mayor failed to properly report legally required information on his financial disclosure forms. As a result of these actions, the Missouri Ethics Commission determined laws were violated and fined the alderman and the Mayor.
The audit includes recommendations to ensure utility billings and account balances are accurate and better track customer deposits. The audit also found the need for increased oversight over financial processes and recommended better budgeting practices.
The complete audit of the City of Hamilton, which received an overall rating of fair, can be found online at https://app.auditor.mo.gov/Repository/Press/2019007825121.pdf.