Audit reveals more problems in Hayti Heights

An audit cites poor record-keeping and lack of control in Hayti Heights.
An audit cites poor record-keeping and lack of control in Hayti Heights.

By CJ Cassidy - bio | email

HAYTI HEIGHTS, MO (KFVS) - An audit raises more questions about the financial problems already plaguing a southeast Missouri town.
Can a city recover if it is bogged down in unpaid bills?  That's one of many questions in Hayti Heights.
The audit that cites poor record-keeping and lack of control in the city took us back to Hayti Heights.
While we were there we also found out about a pretty big sewer bill the city owes.
Some folks who live in the Heights say it's enough to push them to make a big stink.
I asked the mayor what his thoughts were on the audit.
"My thoughts - I've given all my thoughts to the attorney and that's as far as I'll go on that," Lawrence Newman said.
But City Attorney Jim Bruce says it highlights the fact that leaders in Hayti Heights are doing a terrible job of management and an equally bad job of managing their money.
He says the mayor and city council are trying to come up with solutions, but folks in town say it shouldn't have taken an audit to realize they had problems.
"It's not a case that someone from the outside needs to come in and tell us what to do," said Hayti Heights resident Alex Cooper. "They was elected to office and if they found themselves incapable of doing that they should resign." 
So, I asked the mayor if he took responsibility for the way the city is operated.
His answer: "I have a board.  It's the board's responsibility."
"I'd like to see someone out there take control," said Mayor Bobby Watkins in neighboring Hayti.  Watkins says the audit doesn't surprise him.
He has bigger problems to deal with when it comes to Hayti Heights; like a $47,000 sewer bill the city owes Hayti that's been adding up for the past six years.
"This comes back to their citizens, and what their citizens are expecting of their leadership," Watkins said. "Hopefully they are going to get that soon. Not even attempting to pay last year has put us behind as a city on the things we could be using that money for."
Alex Cooper says he pays his bills on time every month.  Now he wants to know why city leaders can't do the same.
"The head of city government is the Mayor and the City Council. They are the ones that bear responsibility."
Attorney Jim Bruce says city leaders are trying to prioritize the bills they have and figure out how to pay the most important bills first.  Turns out they are also behind on electric bills.
In the meantime, the Mayor of Hayti tells Heartland News he and his city council could end up taking Hayti Heights city leaders to court to settle their sewer bill.

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