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Cost of Crestwood state audit could be as much as $42,636

The total cost to the city of Crestwood for an audit conducted by the Missouri State Auditor's Office could be as much as $42,636, the city's director of finance recently told the Board of Aldermen.

Director of Finance Diana Madrid told aldermen last week that "out-of-pocket'' costs the city will have to pay the State Auditor's Office once the audit is completed are estimated at $20,000 to $24,000.

In addition, Madrid reported July 13 that additional costs absorbed by the city to date total $18,636.04.

That amount includes $14,024.59 in "lost time'' by city staff, $2,705 in legal fees, $1,470 in fees to the city's independent auditor, Brown Smith Wallace, and $436.45 in materials and copying expenses.

Kelley Isherwood of Oakville, chairman of the Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance, told the Board of Aldermen Oct. 28 that his organization had collected more than 1,100 signatures on a petition requesting a state audit.

In November, the city received a letter from the State Auditor's Office that stated a petition containing 1,129 signatures had been submitted requesting a state audit, and 739 signatures were needed to trigger such an audit. Of the 1,129 signatures submitted, 1,020 were signatures of registered Crestwood voters, the letter stated.

However, as the Call reported earlier this year, two-thirds of the signatures on the petition were collected by non-residents and more than half were collected by members of a family who have been at odds with city officials over the potential redevelopment of a shopping center they own.

During her presentation, Madrid noted that non-residents collected 766 signatures or 67.85 percent of the total number collected.

Four members of the Boegeman family, who own the Creston Center at the southeast corner of Watson and Grant roads, collected 584 signatures on the petition calling for a state audit.

Non-residents Ken Boegeman, Ken Boegeman Jr., Timothy Boegeman and Harry M. Boegeman Jr. — collected 584 signatures, while Isherwood collected 167 signatures. Another non-resident, Carolyn Dobbs, collected 15 signatures.

Members of the Boegeman family have been at odds with city officials since early 2002 when a request for proposals was issued to redevelop 18.79 acres comprised of two parcels at Watson and Grant roads.

The larger of the two parcels contains Value City and is owned by Joe Grasso, while the smaller parcel contains the Creston Center and is owned by the Boegeman family. The Boegemans repeatedly have told aldermen they will not sell their property and have vowed to fight any efforts to acquire their property through eminent domain. Though the RFP later was withdrawn, the board is contemplating issuing another RFP for the area.

Of the residents collecting signatures for the petition, Jesus J. Miguel, also known as Jerry Miguel, obtained the most — 68. Miguel of Ward 3 was elected to the Board of Aldermen in April, defeating Alderman Bernadine "Bernie'' Alexander.

Roger Anderson, the resident who has identified himself as the "chief petitioner'' for the state audit, collected a total of 20 signatures. The Call reported last year that Anderson told the Board of Aldermen Jan. 28, 2003, that a state audit was needed of the city's finances.

During Madrid's presentation, Ward 3 Alderman Don Maddox said, "I think it's a bit disingenuous of us as a board to consider people who own businesses and operate businesses within the city of Crestwood to have no rights with regard to contesting whatever the government is doing for or to them. So that when we note that 67 percent of these signatures were collected by non-residents, I note that approximately 52 percent of those were collected by owners of businesses within the city of Crestwood. They have every right to question what we're doing and how we're doing it — so that I just want to make that comment.''

Madrid said, "One of the reasons this analysis was completed was that it is a citizens' petition audit, so ...''

Maddox said, "Well, it's a citizens' petition audit in that citizens have to sign it in order for the petition to go forward. Now it doesn't say that people who collect the signatures have to be residents, you know, that's part of the rules. If that was true, then these signatures would have been rejected. Anyone can collect signatures under the law.''

Madrid said, "That's correct.''

Maddox said, "... I just think that it's not a big deal that signatures were collected by business owners within the city of Crestwood. Now I find it regrettable that we were not able to counter the bad publicity that we were getting during that period of time, which resulted in people signing these petitions because I think they were, if not misinformed, certainly misguided about what we were trying to do at that time. But when it comes to the audit I just feel like the citizens have a right to this step and we regret it. We don't like to spend the money. We don't like to spend the effort going through it, but it's the right that our citizens have and they availed themselves of that right and consequently we have to bear the cost ...''

Ward 4 Alderman Tom Fagan later said, "... I would agree that anyone can collect signatures whether they're a resident or non-resident, but really it goes to what transpired here and why this audit was requested. It was simply an attempt by an outside group, a business owner, because they were unhappy with the request for proposal and this was their way, I feel, to try to get back at the city because of the request for proposal. Alderman Maddox made a comment about some people may have been misguided. Frankly, I think they were misled by some of the comments and misled may be too soft of a word. I think a lot of this is intellectually dishonest. It's not because some of these people wanted to find out about the finances of the city of Crestwood. All they wanted to do was harass the city of Crestwood and unfortunately we now are going to have to spend a total of approximately up to $42,000 for a state audit that, I guess we'll wait and see what the ultimate results are, but may not produce anything differently than what our own audit by Brown, Smith Wallace will prepare ...''

In a separate matter July 13, mayoral candidate Roy Robinson responded to a statement that Ward 2 Alderman Tim Trueblood made June 22 contending that Robinson had attended Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance meetings.

"I'm here tonight to just make one small statement,'' Robinson said. "I'm not here to discuss anything. I came back from vacation and happened to look into the Call newspaper and I saw where Mr. Trueblood had made a statement that I had attended a meeting that I didn't know that I had attended. So I'm here so that the Call, the media, can maybe rectify that statement because it's untrue and there's no — and if Mr. Trueblood has someone that informed him of that, I would advise him not to use that information anymore because it's totally untrue and I say it to you straightforward.''

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