A state audit shows a southwest Missouri county “road district” suffered severe mismanagement.

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway

Local taxpayers submitted a petition for an investigation because of concerns about operations within the Buck Prairie Road District in Lawrence County.

The audit uncovered a lack of oversight and control by the district’s board members as well as overspending.  State Auditor Nicole Galloway says problems arose after district employees were allowed to make personal purchases under an honor system.  “Let me give you an example.  We found a former employee had purchased several sets of tires for his personal vehicles on district charge accounts” said Galloway.  “Therefore he didn’t pay sales tax.  And he did not reimburse the district and tax payers for those expenses until he was questioned by law enforcement”.

The district also paid employees for repairs or expenses, but failed to document why they were necessary.  Galloway points to an instance where an employee used his own business trucks and billed the district $20,000, even though the district owned its own trucks. “There’s not adequate supporting documentation to show what those services were for.  And there was no bidding, or trying to get the best value for those services.  It’s questionable why they would directly reimburse the former employee for products and services they already had and paid for with taxpayer dollars.”

Galloway noted the district itself serves a useful purpose.  She said “Special road districts provide a valuable service across Missouri, ensuring roads are safe and passable in the most rural parts of the state.”

Her finding have been sent to local law enforcement agencies in Lawrence County to determine if action will be taken against the district board or individuals.  Three Buck Prairie Road District employees have been fired and three board members have resigned as a result of the audit.