An $84,000 mistake and a few other issues have resulted in a lower grade for southeastern Missouri’s Iron County, according to a state audit released Tuesday.

State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Missouri, downgraded Iron County from “good” to “fair” from a previous audit that was conducted in 2018. The latest audit finds that the county’s tax collector incorrectly withheld around $84,000 in revenues that should have been dispersed to political subdivisions within the county.

“While I think the county is on the right track with how it has responded to our audit and is moving quickly to put many of our recommendations into place, the failure of the Iron County Collector to distribute $84,000 to other local governments is something that should not have happened and must not happen again,” Fitzpatrick said. “I appreciate that the County Collector has already corrected her error and is taking the appropriate steps to make sure the hard-earned tax dollars of Iron County residents are used appropriately by their county government,”

Also, Iron County did not file reconciliation statements for the county’s seven bank accounts from 2020 through last year. In addition, the County Commission used county funds to buy $1,015 worth of gift cards as Christmas presents to county employees at a holiday lunch in 2022 and spent $800 to pick up the tab for that lunch without documenting it as being for business purposes.

“The purchase of the gift cards is clearly not an appropriate use of taxpayer funds and I commend the County Commission for taking immediate action to address this problem so it doesn’t happen again,” Fitzpatrick said.

The report also found that Iron County needs to improve its compliance with Missouri’s Sunshine Law. It recommends that the county adopt a written policy for public access to county records and develop a log to track Sushine Law requests.

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