City Releases Reviews Into Southwest Treatment Plant
The city of Springfield says it is implementing changes suggested by auditors who reviewed operating procedures at its Southwest Treatment Plant.
On Thursday, the city released three reviews by outside industry experts and an external financial audit firm to review how the facility does business, both operationally and financially. This comes more than a year after an investigation was launched to determine potential misuse of city-owned property and funds at the plant.
The first phase of an internal investigation suspected misappropriation of between $25,000-$50,000. The city then requested a separate investigation by the Springfield Police Department to determine what, if any, criminal misconduct occurred. That probe by SPD was completed in November 2014 and the case was submitted to the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office (GCPO). The city says the matter is still being adjudicated.
In a statement, City Manager Greg Burris said “While an investigation is underway, publicly discussing allegations of any nature constitutes an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy for both the accused and those who came forward with potential concerns, as well as potentially jeopardizing the investigative process.”
As for the three reviews, auditors recommended the department centralize the procurement of goods and equipment noting a large number of purchasing cards issued to plant employees. They cited a lack of visibility into plant purchasing, and called for the establishment of a process for secondary review. Additionally, auditors recommended an analytical review of major items to help determine where like purchase could be consolidated, and a comprehensive inventory of plant equipment.
“We appreciate the work of the auditors and have already implemented the recommended changes,” said Burris. “The Southwest Treatment Plant is an outstanding facility served by dedicated employees who work tirelessly to take care of the award-winning plant and the customers served by the plant. We believe the events that occurred are isolated, and we are continuing further reviews to ensure proper measures have been taken to prevent future problems of this nature.”
View the full reviews here.
Springfield’s Southwest Treatment Plant is one of two wastewater treatment facilities operated by the Department of Environmental Services and operates around the clock to treat wastewater from the greater Springfield area.