Missouri's Monarch Fire Protection District recently had its rating adjusted to "fair" by state auditor Thomas Schweich after an accounts payable audit revealed some financial irregularities, the Eureka-Wildwood Patch reports.
State auditors uncovered $26,000 of questionable spending on an awards banquet, which included expenditures related to jewelry presented as awards, conference room rental charges and a speaker's fee.
An additional $12,000 was found to have been paid to a lobbyist without detailed descriptions of the work that was being compensated. Additionally, $280,000 in extra pay made to seven senior fire district employees violated the Missouri Constitution, and duplicate payments to the pension attorney were also revealed.
While the audit initially revealed $200,000 worth of accounting discrepancies, they were later reduced to just $2,000.
"It shows a little sloppiness," Schweich said, as quoted by the news source, noting that although this encourages fraud and embezzlement, none was uncovered by the audit.
Elsewhere in the country, a trio of Iola, Texas, Volunteer Fire Department employees were arrested for exploiting weaknesses in financial operations similar to those pinpointed in the Monarch Fire Protection District. Earl and Wanda Sword and Samantha Kimich were found to have embezzled nearly $40,000 over a period of more than two years.