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Area Special Road District Receives Poor Rating in Audit

Nicolas Raymond

An audit of an area special road district finds overspending and lax controls.

The Missouri Auditor’s Office says it identified more than $65,000 in questionable and potentially inappropriate spending and payments by the Buck Prairie Road District in rural Lawrence County.  An additional $260,000 in payments was not properly documented.

Auditor Nicole Galloway says, while "special road districts provide a valuable service across Missouri…in this case, the board operated informally, and with little oversight, which created opportunities for errors and misuse of funds.”

According to Galloway, employees of the road district were allowed to make personal purchases with district charge accounts to avoid paying sales taxes and operated on an honor system to reimburse the district. A news release details one example, when an employee used district funds to purchase tires for his personal vehicle and only reimbursed the district after being questioned about the purchase by local law enforcement officers. In other cases, the district paid employees for repairs or expenses, but did not require or keep any documentation to provide an explanation for the expense.

The auditor’s office says the board did not solicit bids for major purchases, including payments for rock and dirt hauling services, “with no bidding process and no explanation as to why the district-owned dump trucks were not used instead of employees' personal vehicles.” According to Galloway’s office, “more than $20,000 worth of hauling services were purchased from and paid to the board foreman and his business, along with $5,000 worth of services paid directly to the wife of a commissioner, with a check signed by that commissioner, raising concerns about conflicts of interest in payments.”

Residents of the district petitioned the Auditor's Office for review after raising concerns related to the road district's management and operations. The audit began last fall, after residents submitted the required signatures to complete the petition process and begin the audit. The auditor’s office gave the Buck Prairie Road District a “poor” rating in the audit.

The district was created in 1902 to maintain rural roads near the city of Marionville.