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Joplin's finance director expects only minor recommendations from possible state audit

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 Some Joplin area residents are reacting to the possibility that the city might soon be audited.  Organizers of a citizen-driven petition calling for the audit believe they now have enough signatures.

The question sealing the need for this possible audit of the city is how well do you trust city officials?

"My concern would be the tornado money," says Joplin area resident Paula Schultz.

"You know, there's a lot of people still waiting on stuff to be built," says Joplin resident Aaron Parent.

Leslie Haase, Joplin's finance director, says, "We're audited annually by our outside financial auditors.  What their job is, is to make sure that our annual financial statements don't have any material misstatements.  Which for how ever many years, going back way before me, they've been clean audits."

Haase hasn't heard from the state auditor's office yet about what the possible audit would specially entail.

"It's my understanding, the state auditors, they will come in and look for some of the same things that our financial auditors look at, but they also look at processes and they look to see if you're following your policies and procedures," says Haase.

Haase says city money has not been handled or distributed improperly.

"Policies and procedures are followed," says Haase.

Haase doesn't know how much the audit would cost taxpayers.  That's something many taxpayers themselves consider a catch-22.  They would pay money to know how money is being spent.

"If it ends up being worth it, that we paid the money and they find out that it has been spent wrong, yeah.  But you know we pay for it, it's being spent right, then we just kind of paid extra for nothing," says Parent.

Either way, though, someone would get some sort of answers.

"If we make a mistake, the important thing is to learn from the mistake and change processes and react to things that are brought to our attention.  Mostly, an auditor's job is to find things and bring it to our attention so that we can correct it.  I expect this to go in the same manner," says Haase.

Signatures from the petition will now be verified by the state auditor.  The state auditor's office has not returned our calls for more information.

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