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Missouri state auditor Nicole Galloway

Missouri state auditor Nicole Galloway explains why she has launched a special task force to monitor the financial health of Missouri's rural hospitals during an interview withe business reporter Samantha Liss on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, at the Post-Dispatch. Photo by Laurie Skrivan | lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS • State Auditor Nicole Galloway says she will conduct an audit of the city of St. Louis, the scope of which will be determined by her office.

In a letter Tuesday to the legal counsel of the Board of Aldermen, Galloway’s chief of staff noted that “concerns expressed to us will be considered; however, the scope of the audit will be determined by the State Auditor’s Office.”

But supporters of the audit are confident she will take a wide-ranging look at city government. Galloway will meet with city aldermen in the coming weeks to finalize details of the audit.

“We have a great state auditor, and I think she will take the opportunity to make sure we have all the information we need from all the departments we need it from,” said Lewis Reed, president of the Board of Aldermen.

“I’m expecting all the major departments in this city to have some interaction with the auditor and I think we’ll be better off because of it.”

The audit could cost from $1.25 million to $2 million, according to estimates from the auditor’s office. It’ll take up to three years, meaning the city could allocate the money for it over that time period.

“The audit is going to be expensive, let’s make that clear. But it is necessary in order to ensure that dollars are being spent and allocated where they should,” said 21st Ward Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, who co-sponsored the resolution.

Joe Vaccaro, the 23rd Ward alderman, suggested St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones could pay for the audit with money in parking reserves.

In a statement, Jones said no one has formally asked her to do so.

“While I support the resolution calling for an audit of the City of St. Louis, no one has contacted the treasurer’s office to request we pay for the costs associated with this resolution,” Jones said, noting that her office receives and pays for an external audit annually.

Audit STL, a coalition of supporters, has been gathering signatures for a petition drive to trigger an audit and has vowed to continue doing so if anything other than a comprehensive audit is initiated. The group has until Aug. 12 to collect roughly 6,000 signatures.

They hope to work with Galloway going forward.

“While the resolution doesn’t mandate she seek our input, we are hopeful that State Auditor Galloway recognizes that the resolution never would have happened if not for out volunteer effort’s success,” the organization said in a statement this month.

Audit STL argues an audit will find inefficiencies and savings, while also giving residents, who were twice asked to raise sales taxes last year, clarity as to how St. Louis spends its money.

Its backers also point out that an audit conducted now would encompass the St. Louis Police Department, which accounts for a large portion of the city’s budget and which had not been under the city’s control the last time the state auditor reviewed St. Louis departments.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch political reporter.

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