State Auditor Nicole Galloway says her work with the legislature to ensure taxpayers have access to basic financial information about their local government is making an impact. A bipartisan measure signed into law in 2017 increases accountability by encouraging compliance with financial reporting requirements, and new information from the Auditor's Office shows a noticeable improvement in Missouri municipalities meeting their reporting deadlines.
"Government at all levels must be accountable to the citizens they serve," Auditor Galloway said. "A year after working with the legislature to put teeth in the law, we're seeing results. Today, taxpayers have more information about how their dollars are managed."
Cities, towns and villages in Missouri are required to file annual financial reports with the State Auditor's Office within six months of the end of their fiscal year. A law went into effect Aug. 28, 2017, that added a penalty of $500 per day to any local government that fails to turn in required financial information to the State Auditor's Office. Penalties are collected by the Department of Revenue and distributed among schools in that area.
Each month, Auditor Galloway releases a report detailing local government compliance with those financial reporting laws. The June report is one of the largest because it includes all local governments that have a fiscal year ending Dec. 31.
Prior to the legislation taking effect, nearly half of local governments failed to meet the reporting requirements. A report released last week noted a marked improvement in compliance, with the percentage of local governments missing the deadline falling to 37 percent. The State Auditor's Office has also seen an increase in the number of local governments that file financial reports just a few weeks after the six-month deadline and expects compliance to further improve with increasing awareness after the first year of the new law.
"The legislation is having its intended effect as more local governments follow the law and submit this basic financial information to my office," Auditor Galloway said. "We continue to work with lawmakers, municipalities and the Department of Revenue to improve this process."
Citizens looking to access financial reporting information can do so easily by utilizing the Show-Me Local Government Map. Launched by Auditor Galloway in 2016, the online tool promotes transparency in government finances and operations. Users can search by county for financial reports, general obligation bonds and property taxes rates for political subdivisions in Missouri.
The 2017 law expanded on Auditor Galloway's efforts to promote accountability for taxpayers in all local taxing districts. Legislation passed in 2016 expanded oversight and accountability of two types of special taxing districts: Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) and Transportation Development Districts (TDDs).