As She Prepares to Look into St. Louis Finances, Missouri’s Auditor Seeks Public Input

Post-Dispatch — Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway will host a series of public meetings to get input from residents before beginning the years-long process of auditing St. Louis, she said Wednesday.

A resolution passed by the Board of Aldermen requesting an audit has prompted Galloway to move forward, but she says she does plan to meet with members of Audit STL, a group who has been collecting signatures to trigger an audit of the city.

“We are on this path because petitioners initiated an audit and started gathering signatures,” Galloway told the Post-Dispatch. “We control the process, but we’re going to gather a lot of input to make sure that this is a productive audit that meets everyone’s goals.”

Galloway will also meet with city officials as she determines the scope of her review, which she vows will include not just city departments but city-county departments, such as the St. Louis Sheriff, City Treasurer, and the Circuit Attorney.

A similar audit in 2010 took roughly 32,000 hours of work. Based on that precedent, Galloway estimates this audit could take as long as three years, and cost anywhere from $1.5 million to $1.75 million. St. Louis officials could budget for those costs as the audit moves along.

“It’s not like it’s going to come due all at one time,” she said.

Asking taxpayers for their input makes sense, Galloway says, because she’s conducting the audit on their behalf.

“To hold government accountable, to make sure it’s operating transparently, to make sure they understand how decisions are made on their behalf and how their resources are spent,” she said. 

Should Galloway lose her re-election in November, she expects that a new auditor would likely have to continue auditing St. Louis, but could change the scope.

Supporters of the audit hope that the inefficiencies it finds will lead to savings that will help the city’s financial health long-term. They also expect it will give St. Louisans clarity as to how their money is spent, and a look into the finances of the St. Louis Police Department for the first time since the department has returned to local control.

City residents who want to provide information anonymously or who can’t attend a meeting can call the auditor’s whistleblower hotline at (800) 347-8597.