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Council to request state audit of city after 5 hr. work session

City manager Bruce Woody and Admin. Services Asst. Dir. Beau Musser faced off on 48 issues Musser raised related to financial mismanagement and improprieties at city hall.

Posted: Jan 23, 2020 1:37 AM
Updated: Jan 23, 2020 11:30 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)  -- A majority of St. Joseph City Council members now agree that the city should  follow through with a request for a state audit of the city's books.

The decision came after a nearly five-hour work session Wednesday night that saw city hall office politics playing out right in front of them and the public.

Council members heard from the two primary parties involved -- Beau Musser, the assistant director of administrative services, and city manager Bruce Woody.

Woody presented council members with a booklet full of information in response to 48 instances and examples of mismanagement, financial malpractice and accounting errors Musser had singled out.  Musser's complaints became public after the revelation he had sent a scathing letter to state auditor Nicole Galloway requesting the state come in and look into the city's books.

During the work session, Musser called it a lack of institutional control, a term often related to university athletics departments that are facing penalties. Musser's concerns related to sewer billing errors and omissions, the city's fund balance, possible deficit spending, the misleading of council members as to the financial well-being of the city and a wide range of other issues. 

One by one, Woody responded to the allegations, saying that most of them were partially correct, factually incorrect or an exaggeration or misrepresentation of numbers.

However, Musser was not impressed.

"I basically heard nobody say anything to disprove anything I said was true," he said."

Council members were stuck in the middle of an often 'he said, he said' interpretation of events as they described them, saying they could see how the battle between Musser and Woody had become personal and perhaps even a little petty.

"There was some controversy for sure and I'll be looking at both sides of it to try to figure out who's more right," said council member Russell Moore.

It was nearly 11 p.m. when council members said they had heard enough and supported a motion by councilman Bryan Myers to go ahead and request a state audit.

"If there is any wrongdoing or any misappropriation or any accounting practices that are not up to par, it's our responsibility to bring in someone from the outside to correct those things so we will not repeat those things and move forward as a community." Myers said.

Musser said he welcomed that move and affirmed his concerns that the city's finances are in big trouble. When asked if financial practices within city hall are not changed, where would the city end up, he responded with only one word.  Broke.

He also raised concerns about his future employment with the city. Because his identity as a whistleblower was revealed, he believes it will be difficult for him to return to the administrative services department in city hall. He said that he has made a request to be transferred to the public works department.

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