An audit of Gasconade County government by Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway gave the county an overall rating of "fair" in its business practices, but questioned the appropriateness of several purchases made using an account maintained by the former sheriff outside of the county treasury.
"Taxpayers expect purchases by the sheriff's office to have a clear benefit to public safety in their community, but our audit found this was not always the case," Auditor Galloway said in a Monday news release. "I appreciate the responses of Gasconade County officials, who appear committed to making improvements to ensure proper use of taxpayer dollars."
The report found the former sheriff, Randy Esphorst, maintained the Sheriff's Office Reserve Fund account outside of the county treasury and did not properly document spending from the fund. Questionable purchases included payments to local restaurants, grocery stores and a pawn shop, as well as charity donations and memberships in local organizations. The former sheriff also indicated money was used to provide bonuses, which would be in violation of the Missouri Constitution.
Additional recommendations to the sheriff's office included requiring employees to prepare accurate time sheets and ensuring compensation is paid through the county's normal payroll process.
The new sheriff, John Romanus, reported he had implemented the recommendations made in the audit.
In their response to the audit, the Gasconade County Commission said, "We agree and the recommendations have been implemented with the new sheriff taking office in 2017."