Tuesday, December 18, 2007

POWER PLAY: CU Audit Raises Legal Questions

Tension Filled Room
Targets Include Subsidies, Spending, Salaries
Auditor Montee Calls Spending "Unconstitutional"
CU Wants Finding Removed

"City Utilities opinion is they've done nothing wrong ever."

City Utilities customers may be paying too much for some utility services as a result of subsidization of other departments and spending that may be unconstitutional, according to an audit presented by Susan Montee Tuesday night.

You can watch my KY3 News @ 10 report and read the full audit report HERE.

City Utilities vigorously defended its financial decisions and said they contribute to the quality of life in the Springfield area. The Utility also called the unconstitutional finding "serious" and requested it be removed from the public report. "To make such an allegation without substance or evidence casts unfounded doubt on legitimate business activities," reads the Auditee's Response.

The Auditor said $259,000 in spending on picnics, and donations to other entities like community groups and schools is a clear violation of the Missouri Constitution. Montee said the Attorney General may ultimately have to resolve the disagreement.

Customer Ed Marble called CU "a good utility," but called its response to the audit "pathetic." "I think the main thing I saw was CU not being open with financial disclosure," Marble said. Montee said the main difference between this audit and the audit of the city is "the willingness to work on recommendations." She said the city seemed more willing to embrace change than the utility.

Former CU Board Chair Virginia Fry said she didn't understand Montee's response. She said the utility is always looking for ways to improve. But General Manager John Twitty declined to name any specific recommendation CU would be immediately willing to adopt. Twitty will appear live on Ozarks Today Tuesday morning to talk more about the findings.

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