A poor rating has been given to the city of Joplin in a state audit. The findings date back to when the city was rebuilding after the 2011 Joplin tornado.
State Auditor Nicole Galloway says a request for proposal for a master developer may have favored developer Wallace Bajjali and a Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce employee who went on to work for Bajjali.
“It was written by a Chamber employee after Wallace Bajjali emailed that Chamber employee a draft. The document appears to favor Wallace Bajjali Development Partners in the plans they pitched in their many meetings with the Chamber and Citizen Advisory Recovery Team (CART) Representatives over the previous few months,” says Galloway.
The report also says a Joplin real estate company bought land that was empty after the 2011 tornado and sold it to the Joplin Redevelopment Corporation (JRC) at a big profit.
“It was purchased by Four State Homes for $35,000. About a month later in August 2013, it was sold to the JRC for $165,000,” says Galloway. “That means there was a markup of over 450%.”
Galloway says in all, Four State Homes bought 16 properties for about $963,000 and sold them to the JRC for $1.34 million.
The audit also says it was inappropriate for the city to provide the Joplin School District with money from the Parks/Stormwater Sales Tax Fund and Transportation Sales Tax fund to pay for new high school projects.
The audit also criticized the City paying the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce $335,000 in fiscal year 2014 and says Joplin pays its Chamber more than similar-sized cities.