Ferrelview residents petitioning for state audit of village's finances

A nine-year resident of Ferrelview, Mo., Theresa Wilson and her husband have played a number of unique roles within the small community, located just east of KCI Airport with a population of about 450 residents. 

She has managed Ferrelwood Mobile Home Community, one of the largest residential areas within the village; she has been instrumental in smoking out criminals from the community, and although Wilson has tried to settle down to provide for her foster children and grandchildren, she plans to lead yet another instrumental role in assuring safety for the community: petitioning for a state audit of the village’s financial records.

A state financial audit would reveal any negligence on the part of Ferrelview’s board of trustees during the village’s 2015 fiscal year, which ended Dec. 31, 2015. 

Wilson holds a number of concerns regarding the financial processes of the board; issues she wants answered. She suggests that the board is still collecting a $17-monthly fee for Kansas City water meters installed within the village, even though she alleges that the units were “bought and paid for before they were ever installed.”

Another concern from Wilson is a half-cent sales tax increase proposed multiple years ago, that failed via a village-wide vote, but is allegedly being collected by the board.

Wilson requested the signature forms for the audit petition Sunday, May 22 by phone, and she says that she received a response the following morning. Wilson said that the auditor she spoke to saw “numerous red flags” in information Ferrelview annually submits to the state.

Todd Schuler, a Kansas City, Mo. manager with the state auditor’s office, could not provide specifics regarding Wilson’s audit request due to the confidential nature of the process. Although Schuler could not confirm any of the red flags Wilson noted, he did say that the Missouri State Auditor’s Office does not take allegations like Wilson’s lightly.

“Our office views all of the concerns as legitimate, significant, until we go out and actually start an audit,” Schuler said. “We might find things to be better; we might find things to be worse.

“Lots of times, we go into these audits and find things that the citizens weren’t even aware of.”

Because of Ferrelview’s low population, a petition must be signed by 25 percent of the registered voters in the area. Larger areas require a smaller percentage.

In the most recent governor’s election (2012), 259 Ferrelview residents were registered, so the petition for an audit would require at least 64 registered voters in order to begin. With 54 signatures already collected in little more than a month and with nearly 11 months to collect the additional signatures, Wilson is confident that she will reach the requirement.

“Everybody that I’ve talk to so far has signed,” Wilson said. “I haven’t even had to leave my house to do this.”

If Wilson receives at least 64 signatures and submits them to the state auditor’s office, the next step is for the Platte County Board of Elections to verify the signatures. If the form still has at least 64 signees, the petition is active according to the Gena Terlizzi, director of communications for the state auditor’s office.

“(After receiving the required signatures), we would initiate the audit,” Terlizzi said. “There’s a meeting with the governing body and the individual who initiated the audit to determine what concerns generated the petition.”

From there, the audit would be scheduled; however, the timeline for performing the audit depends on certain circumstances decided during the meeting between the state auditor’s office, the Ferrelview Board of Trustees and Wilson.

The entire process comes with a projected $20,000 to $35,000 price tag, according to Galloway — an expense that the village budget would have to cover. The audit would consume up to 35 percent of the board’s less than $100,000 annual revenue, based on 2015 budget projections.

The board did not respond to any requests for comment concerning the potential audit.

State law requires municipalities to submit annual financial records within six months of the end of its fiscal year. Ferrelview’s paperwork deadline should fall on Thursday, June 30, but the village filed late following the previous two fiscal years.

Information in that document will provide answers as to whether or not the board is in violation of any state financial statutes.

Although Wilson has specific questions regarding the financial conduct of the village, her chief issue is a lack of transparency.

“We want answers, and (the board) won’t give them to us,” Wilson said. “They feel like they’re the board of trustees, and they don’t have to answer to nobody.”