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St. Louis aldermen back review of city spending

St. Louis City Hall
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis aldermen have approved a resolution for an audit of how the city spends its money.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has officially asked Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway to review the city’s spending.

Aldermen on Friday approved the resolution introduced by Alderman Joe Vaccaro, D-23rd Ward and Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, D-21st Ward by a wide margin. It calls for a “comprehensive audit of the City of St. Louis,” including so-called county offices like the treasurer and the circuit attorney.

The request comes in the midst of a petition drive that would force Galloway to conduct a similar review. Audit STL has until August to collect about 6,500 signatures.

“The reason we did this is to try to help them to get this through, Vaccaro said. “I know there’s enough people out there who feel we should go through with this audit.”

Audit STL’s backers were cautiously optimistic after Friday’s vote.

“If they’re going to give us what we want without us having to do the work, we’ll take it, but we’re not going to stop until we get the desired results, which is a full and independent audit of the entire city,” said the group’s treasurer, Matt Schmidt.

A spokeswoman for Galloway said her office had not yet received a copy of the resolution and would review it when it was received.

If Galloway conducts an audit, whether by responding to the request or being forced by the petition drive, the city will have to cover the costs, estimated to be about $2 million. That prompted the lone no vote by Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward.

Other aldermen voted for the resolution with some reluctance.

“I will vote for this because of the optics, but I do have concerns about adding more of a fiscal burden to the city budget, and maybe having to cut back services to pay for an audit that may not grant us any more information that we already have before us,” said Alderwoman Carol Howard, D-14th Ward.

A petition drive sparked the last audit of St. Louis’s spending, which wrapped up in 2010. It found policies that needed to be tightened, but no theft of money. Both Howard and Tyus had hoped to review what recommendations were adopted before making the audit request.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.