Missouri News

State auditor criticizes Monroe City's municipal court accounting methods

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 17, 2019 12:01 am

MONROE CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri state auditor's office has issued a report criticizing the accounting controls and record-keeping procedures used by Monroe City's municipal court.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway said the municipal court's overall performance was rated as "good," which means the office was generally believed to be "well managed" during the audit's one-year review period ending Sept. 30, 2018.

However, Galloway said the municipal court's accounting controls and procedures "need improvement." For example, the audit report found:

º The municipal court -- a division of the Tenth Judicial Circuit -- has not adequately segregated accounting and record-keeping duties, and neither the municipal judge nor city personnel perform supervisory or independent reviews of municipal division accounting and court records.

º The municipal division does not reconcile receipt slips issued for court receipts in the city's financial accounting system to the case management system to ensure all monies are properly recorded.

º Police department personnel issue generic unnumbered bond forms. Prenumbered receipt slips are issued for bond payments received, but the receipt slip number is not posted on the court's log.

º The municipal division has not established a formal administrative plan for the collection of court debt and does not adequately monitor accrued costs, including fines and court costs.

The auditor's office issued a series of recommendations aimed at resolving some of the record-keeping issues cited in the report.

For example, Galloway's office suggested that accounting and record-keeping duties be segregated or that steps be taken to carry out an independent review of the court's accounting records.

In response, a statement issued to Galloway's office by the municipal court said a full segregation of duties "is not possible due to the small number of employees at city hall," and the municipal judge is only available one day a month for court. "However, we agree an independent review would be beneficial and will work with the city to implement the recommendation," the statement said.

Auditors also recommended that receipts recorded in the court's financial accounting system be reconciled with the case management system. The court's response statement said this will be done.

The audit suggested that the court work with the police department to make sure prenumbered bond forms are used and that the numerical sequence of all bond forms be recorded. The court said: "We will work with the police department to implement the recommendation."

The audit recommended procedures be established to monitor accrued costs and to establish signed payment plans from all defendants who make partial payments to the court. The court said this will be done.

The audit report also said the municipal court "does not assess certain court costs in compliance with city ordinance and state law" and recommended this be reviewed.

In response, the court's statement said: "We have already begun working with the city attorney to update the city's ordinances and fine schedule to ensure courts costs are assessed in accordance with city ordinance and state law."

In a letter to Monroe City and municipal court officials, Galloway noted that her office is still in the process of conducting a special "petition audit" of the city that was demanded by local residents earlier this year.

Galloway said "any additional findings and recommendations will be included in the subsequent report" once the petition audit is finished.

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