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Missouri State Auditor Fitzpatrick Speaks about Upcoming Investigation of Joplin City Government
Downtown Joplin, Missouri

The examination of Joplin’s financial records and management practices won’t get underway until, at the earliest next summer and could take as long as a year to complete.

Missouri State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick speaks with KRPS’s Fred Fletcher-Fierro about the forthcoming analysis of everything from the city’s financial records to possible Sunshine Law violations and an examination of Joplin's management practices.

In the interview, Fitzpatrick explains the distinctions between annual fiscal audits that every municipality receives and audits the state conducts.

Missouri State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick speaks with KRPS’s Fred Fletcher-Fierro

Earlier this week, Joplin Mayor Doug Lawson disclosed that the city would undergo its first state audit in eight years. KRPS’s Fred Fletcher-Fierro has more.

That 2015 audit, by then State Auditor Nicole Galloway’s officeresulted in a rating of 'poor' in August of 2011 for Joplin’s municipal government. The audit found multiple violations including that city officials did not ensure the selection process for the master developer, Wallace Bajjali was independent and free of bias.

Among numerous findings, Galloway’s audit found that the predevelopment agreement was also written to benefit Wallace Bajjali and did not adequately protect the city.

Questions about Joplin’s finances have never subsided since the tornado and the Wallace Bajjali debacle with over 2,000 residents signing a petition in favor of an audit.

Current State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick says there are big differences between a state audit and the annual financial audits that every municipality receives.

“The main difference is that our audit will be in addition to a financial review, it will be a performance audit.

So we'll look at the city’s compliance with various laws. We’ll look at the efficiency and effectiveness of their management practices”

According to Fitzpatrick due to the several other audits his office is currently conducting statewide, it could be until the middle of 2024 before the audit is underway.

He says the audit could be complete in the summer of 2025.

Copyright 2023 Four States Public Radio. To see more, visit Four States Public Radio.

Since 2017 Fred Fletcher-Fierro has driven up Highway 171 through thunderstorms, downpours, snow, and ice storms to host KRPS’s Morning Edition. He’s also a daily reporter for the station, covering city government, elections, public safety, arts, entertainment, culture, sports and more. Fred has also spearheaded and overseen a sea change in programming for KRPS from a legacy classical station to one that airs a balance of classical, news, jazz, and cultural programming that better reflects the diverse audience of the Four States. For over two months in the fall of 2022 he worked remotely with NPR staff to relaunch to an NPR style news and information website.