JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Belton leaders made changes after a state audit found the city could benefit, and save money, if it implemented several suggestions.

The Missouri auditor’s office conducted the independent review after people there petitioned for it to happen.

Many citizens were unhappy when they found out in early 2020 that the city needed to increase water rates. People said they were already paying higher rates than people in nearby communities.

Overall the city received a “good” rating, but the audit also identified several possible issues with the way the city controls and handles its finances, according to Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway.

“My office conducted an independent review of Belton and found several areas to increase accountability to taxpayers,” Galloway said. “I am encouraged by the responses of city officials to our recommendations, and urge them to continue moving forward with those measures.”

Police Department

The audit found Belton’s Police Department needs to do a better job of separating accounting duties and also implement documented reviews of the department’s finances.

The audit also determined the department needs better procedures over property that is seized from the public.

Parks and Recreation

The audit determined Belton’s Parks and Recreation needs better procedures for recording payments and transactions. This would help ensure all money collected is accounted for properly, the audit found.

It also found the city has not developed a records management and retention policy to make sure the department is in compliance with state guidelines.

City Funds

While Belton established procedures to allocate overhead and administrative costs to various funds, the audit suggested they are not adequate.

It found the procedures don’t do enough to ensure the money from those funds is only used for intended purposes.

The audit also found severance payments to several city employees were not approved by the City Council or Park Board, and may have not been necessary or reasonable.

Based on recommendations from the State Auditor’s Office, the city hired a consulting firm to review and update it’s General Fund. That report is expected to be completed before the end of the current fiscal year.

The city council and park board also agreed to make sure all severance and release agreements are reviewed on a case-by-case basis with the city’s legal counsel.

The police department implemented a new cash receipts program to account for all receipt slips. The budget for next year also includes funding for a new, full time Property Officer position. It will also pay for new shelving for the property room.

The department plans to complete an inventory of the property room when the shelving arrives. Inventory checks will continue at least twice a year.

The full audit, and how the city responded, is available on the auditor’s website.

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