Group says University City will be audited

1:12 PM, Dec 3, 2009   |    comments
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KSDK -- For the first time in its history, it appears University City will be audited by the state.

A  citizens group called "University City Citizens for Transparency and Accountability" alleges that the city council passed a budget based on a questionable transfer of funds and on an assumption that a tax increase would pass in August.

The group needed 2,233 valid signatures on its petition to require a state audit.  It says more than 3,200 signatures were handed in to the state auditor's office.

University City resident Paulette Carr and others started the petition in July.  She said she believes citizens are dissatisified with budget decision made by city leaders.

Carr questioned city leader claims that there are budget shortfalls when taxes are among the highest in St. Louis County.

When the group first came forward announcing its petition drive, members accused University City of spending in a time it needed to cut back.  They said the city was blocking citizens from assess the budget.

Read: University City group calls for state audit

Ward 1 University City Councilman Robert Wagner said he welcomes the audit, although he believes the claims by those asking for the audit are presenting a mixed bag of truth and rumor.  "I don't believe there are any smoking guns here that they are going to turn up," Wagner said.

Wagner said the audit could cost the city between 60 to 80 thousand dollars.

One of the questions raised by Carr is the city's claims about its budget.  She pointed out that last summer, city leaders warned there may need to be a tax increase to meet a million dollar shortfall.  The tax increase did not happen, but the budget still ended up having a half-million dollar surplus. 

Wagner said that city leaders were making the budget based on estimates of the revenue expected to come in.. and the fact that more money came into the city than projected is nothing unusual.



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