A lack of clarity regarding how the City of Saint Louis manages taxpayers’ money has pushed some residents to demand answers. Audit STL, a local activist group, is currently attempting to collect signatures to trigger an audit from the Missouri State Auditor’s office. Because the Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department was under state control prior to 2013, previous audits of the city have not included the police.
A story in the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports on Audit STL’s concerns:
“Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being managed, the group [Audit STL] argues, especially because city leaders have asked them to approve half-cent sales tax increases twice in a six-month period.” St. Louis mayor Lyda Krewson added that “This audit will clarify the cost of all city operations so that city leadership can make informed choices. Just like at home, the city can’t afford everything we want, so we must make the hard and difficult choices to fund our priorities.”
Taxpayers certainly have the right to know how their money is being spent. That’s why we have started a checkbook project. Thus far, we have issued over 150 sunshine requests to municipalities all across Missouri for records of their spending. We are currently processing these records and building a searchable database that will be available on our website. Once completed, this checkbook will be a useful tool for concerned citizens across Missouri.
Residents of Saint Louis have every right to know the details of their city’s finances, and if that requires a state audit, then so be it. Governmental bodies must be accountable to the people they serve, and any serious level of accountability can only be achieved through transparency.