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City of Seymour receives Auditor Galloway’s worst rating

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Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office yesterday delivered the findings of its audit of the city of Seymour, following a petition initiative by residents.

In the audit report, Galloway graded the city as “poor,” the worst rating her office gives out of four potential marks, according to a news release.

"During our review, we discovered several areas with significant problems that need to be addressed by city officials,” Galloway said in the release. “I urge them to take action, without delay, to restore public trust and to better serve the citizens of Seymour." 

Seymour, located about 42 miles southeast of Springfield, was docked for improper utility system controls and procedures, poor oversight of the city’s financial condition, budgets and financial reporting, an instance of nepotism, disbursements, closed meetings not allowable under the Sunshine Law, payroll and accounting controls and procedures, and the lack of a comprehensive planning and zoning guide.

Galloway’s office found Seymour’s utility, electric, water and sewer operations subsidized the city’s general fund to the tune of more than $560,000 in fiscal year 2017. Representing the majority of operating income from the utilities, the auditor’s office claims the action may indicate utility rates are higher than necessary, according to the release.

The Seymour Board of Aldermen responded by saying the governing body would work to eliminate the offsets on the general fund provided by the utilities.

“The board has already initiated a current professional rate study and is awaiting the results,” board members wrote in their audit response. “We will continue to monitor utility rates periodically.”

Among other findings, Galloway’s office also discovered Seymour’s city administrator provided economic incentives to organizations without board approval.

According to the audit, the city administrator allowed for a commercial business to save $28,000 by being charged a lower electric rate in exchange for opening a new grocery store. In another example, the auditor’s office cited the city’s waiver of $1,000 in electric charges for a religious organization in exchange for it relocating to Seymour, according to the release.

The board responded by saying it would address the circumstances mentioned in the audit and implement a policy where it would approve all economic incentives.

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